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In addition, social variations in the use of dialects exist, the linguistic levels to which these can be applied include vocabulary, idiomacity, grammar and pronunciation. In simple terms, this is the words used, the special meanings and forms they are used in, the way they are place within sentences and how they are spoken.
How dialect, or its social variation ‘sociolect’ is used, depends on the situation a person is in elements of which are described as who, what and where, all of which will impact on the style of language usage. For example, people will often use what they describe as their ‘posh’ or ‘telephone’ voice when answering a call. So somebody from Northern Ireland, speaking in a ‘casual style’ of dialect, may greet a friend or acquaintance with adda boutcha(How are you), will change this to ow’re ya doin- still dialectic, but in the ‘careful’ style when meeting someone new or who they consider superior. There is more attention paid to the use of speech, with the changes in vocabulary, idiom and pronunciation, bearing out the contention that situations influence how speech is monitored. In sociolinguistic terms, shared knowledge of a language by a sufficient number of people creates a dialect. As with many languages, dialects have their own peculiar sounding of words, particularly where vowels are concerned. An illustration which shows how this works comes from the East Yorkshire coast. Received pronunciation, or indeed other parts of Britain, will fully round out the vowel sounds in the words ‘bonny bairn’. With the flattened vowel sounds of Hull and the East Coast, this becomes something like ‘bernie bern’ – which takes
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the issue into the realms of the use of words in dialect. ‘Bonny’ could be ‘beautiful’ elsewhere, and of course ‘bairn’ is ‘baby’. The Scots and Irish would sound the ‘r’, but it is virtually silent in the Hull example. Other examples of different lexical terms demonstrate dialectic differences where one part of the country talks about having dinner, another calls it supper. In American English, a lift becomes an elevator and the police station is the precinct, and so on. The precinct is where shopping takes place in large British cities, but the Americans go to the mall. So it can safely be said that everybody talks in a dialect of some sort, or at least incorporates linguistic elements of regional or social variations into verbal communication, true about all languages, worldwide. One amazing example of Ulster dialectic mystery concerns the sedum plant of the dark, ruby red flowered variety. In Northern Ireland, this is a ‘Mullingar Heifer’ and it is difficult to imagine what a native of Bristol would make of it. Coupled with dialect, the regional accent is found, which may account for confusion as to differences in definition.
Accent is defined (COD, p.6) as . Prominence given to syllable by stress or in some languages, by pitch[…]2. Individual, local or national mode of pronunciation.An accent refers to a more general pronunciation of English and (indeed other languages) and is not specifically applied to traditional dialect words. The different linguistic levels involved with accents are described as
Segmental phonemic (units of significant sounds) and
Suprasegmental stress, rhythm and intonation.
Speaking with a regional accent determines a person’s geographical origins,