In relation to the recent post on "a language is a dialect with an navy and an army/missionary and a dictionary", I thought this meme needed to come into existence. Now, here it is! Hurray!
A dialect is a sub-variety of a language, often defined by geographical borders, but not necessarily. We all speak dialects, most often more than two. No-one speaks "just a language", or at least I have a very hard time understanding what that would even mean. Perhaps if one was the only ever known speaker of one language..
Feel free to talk to us about that down in the comments or here ^^!
We mainly talk about dialects when referring to less standard varieties, most often rural areas or informal language. But, they're all dialects. The language of the capital, of the television and of the written press are also dialect(s). We all speak dialects.
Just as with other kinds of norms it's hard to realise that they exist at all if one is part of the most accepted, frequent, privileged, "unmarked" or mainstream one. It's just like with ideologies and theories, it's hard to even realise you have one if it's only ever been presented as the "truth". It's like telling someone in medieval times that feudalism isn't the only way to organise society, or someone today that capitalism isn't the only economic system. (No, we're not having that discussion here and now, this was an example - nothing more.)
Sometimes one can also find people using the term dialect for language they considered less important, such as "in Africa they just speak lots of different dialects"... one cannot help but wonder "dialects of what?".
Anyway, that's it. Have fun with this meme :)!
*mutter mutter* calling the most diverse continent on earth, genetically and linguistically, a collection of dialects of nothing in particular *mutter*... if anything Europe is just a collection of dialects of Standard Average European *mutter mutter* morr grr morr... zzz.. zzz... z...