By Kamil Wiśniewski July 14th, 2007
Language, as it is described in books and articles on morphology, or semantics is often described as a uniform entity, however, even within one language community such as country or state significant differences can be seen. Such regional variation of languages is also subject to linguistic investigations. General descriptions of languages focusing on pronunciation, or grammar usually provide information about the standard variety of a given language, nonetheless, that does not mean that it is in any respect better than its other varieties. The standard language is chosen for such accounts because it is frequently the official kind and in the case of English an idealized version that learners of English as a second language usually attempt to learn.
One of the most easily noticeable features characterizing some regional feature of a language is most certainly accent. Although it is generally believed that some people speak with an accent and others do not it is not true. Every language speaker utters words with some kind of accent which can tell the listeners where the speaker is from, as the very term accent is characterized as: the way of pronouncing words characteristic to a group of people showing which country, or part of country the speaker is from. Accent is frequently confused with the term dialect which denotes aspects of pronunciation together with words and syntax slightly different from the standard variety. Although various dialects of one language posses grammar rules and vocabulary characteristic to them, speakers of different dialects of one language understand each other without major difficulties. Moreover, one language user can speak two different dialects, or varieties of one language. In countries like China or Malta there are distinct forms of language used on everyday basis and on special occasions. Such a linguistic situation, when one variety of language is considered more prestigious and one move vernacular, but both are in use depending on situation is called diglossia.
Apart from regional variations of a language within the boundaries of a country or speech community there are other factors influencing language change. In certain areas of the world English has been used as a lexifier, that is a language which is a source of words, for varieties of language called pidgins. A pidgin, or a contact language, is a mixture of two other languages created usually because of trading purposes between peoples who do not share a common means of communication. English-based pidgins are used in India, Cameroon, or Nigeria for example. Such varieties of language often have limited vocabulary, poorly developed grammar and are used only when other types of communication are impossible. When a pidgin begins to be used by a larger number of people its vocabulary and grammar expand, and it starts to be used in a wider context. As it is developed as a contact language pidgin does not have any native speakers, yet if it is used on a wider scale children of people using it might acquire it as their mother tongue. When such a language starts to be used by a second generation of speakers it is called a creole. It is the next stage of development of pidgin and it is characterized by different grammatical features such as avoidance of passive voice, lack of case distinction in pronouns, different word order. Some English-based creoles include: Gambian Creole, Hawaiian Creole, Australian Creoles.
As the process of the development of a pidgin into a creole is called creolization, there is also a process of decreolization, which stimulates further change of a language. When people using a creole have some contact with the standard language they tend to shift from one form to the other thus often changing the structures of creole to make it resemble the standard version, perceived as having higher social prestige.
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