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What is the difference between a language and a dialect?

Are Mandarin and Cantonese individual languages, or are they dialects of Chinese? Questions like these would be easier to answer if dialects and languages were easy to define, but linguists still disagree on the difference between the two.

Too much variation to distinguish the two

There are too many exceptions to the definitions of languages and dialects to clearly distinguish them.

Excessive variation

Languages and dialects cannot be neatly categorized as separate phenomena because none of the popular, scholarly, or sociopolitical definitions are sufficient.

Languages and dialects can be defined

Both political and linguistic factors can help distinguish between languages and dialects.

Sociopolitical distinction

The difference between a dialect and a language can be explained both historically and currently with political and social factors.

Linguistic distinction

The difference between a language and a dialect can be explained using several linguistic guidelines as well as recent scientific evidence.

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 5 Aug 2020 at 19:58 UTC


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