The term dialect (from the Greek word
διάλεκτος, dialektos) is used in two distinct
ways, even by scholars of language. One us-
age refers to a variety of a language that is
characteristic of a particular group of the
language’s speakers. The term is applied
most often to regional speech patterns, but a
dialect may also be defined by other factors,
such as social class. A dialect that is asso-
ciated with a particular social class can be
termed a sociolect; a regional dialect may be
termed a regiolect (or topolect). The other
usage refers to a language socially subordin-
ate to a regional or national standard lan-
guage, often historically cognate to the
standard, but not a variety of it or in any oth-
er sense derived from it. This more precise
usage enables distinguishing between variet-
ies of a language, such as the French spoken
in Nice, France, and local languages distinct
from the superordinate language, e.g. Nis-
sart, the traditional native Romance language
of Nice, known in French as Niçard.
A dialect is distinguished by its vocabu-
(phonology, including prosody). Where a dis-
tinction can be made only in terms of pronun-
ciation, the term accent is appropriate, not
dialect (although in common usage, "dialect"
and "accent" are usually synonymous).
Other speech varieties include: standard
languages, which are standardized for public
performance (for example, a written stand-
ard); jargons, which are characterized by dif-
patois; pidgins or argots.
The particular speech patterns used by an
individual are termed an idiolect.
Standard and non-stand-
A standard dialect (also known as a stand-
ardized dialect or "standard language") is a
dialect that is supported by institutions. Such
institutional support may include government
recognition or designation; presentation as
being the "correct" form of a language in
schools; published grammars, dictionaries,
and textbooks that set forth a "correct"
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