Dialect, Diversity, Language

How Many Englishes Do you Speak?

It’s no secret that English-speaking Americans can sound vastly different from one another. We have different accents (Southern, Jersy, “Bah-ston”), vocabulary (pop vs. soda), and good ol’ colloquial idioms (Really New England, how can 15 minutes before an hour [e.g. 12:45] be referred to as “quarter OF?”). A grad student at N. Carolina State University created some amazing maps of some of these differences which, according to the Huffington Post, briefly “set the internet on fire.”

The levels of allegiance to this word are staggering.

We freely discuss these differences, but rarely talk about how they impact our perceptions. We know people make assumptions based on race, gender, or clothing styles, but do we judge based on dialect as well?

In my Language, Literacy, and Culture course, I used Morocco as an example of a Linguistically Stratified Society in which the language you speak strongly indicates your social class. French, for example, is more often used in universities and legal documents, while Darija tends to be the at-home language of urban communities, Tashelhit for rural areas, etc. I used the graphic below to “rank” the social status of each language.

moroc
Note that this is NOT a comparison of the actual legitimacy, complexity, or beauty of the languages – from a linguistics standpoint they’re completely equal.

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