Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 501-502


  • Judit SimoAffiliated withEnglish Department, Case Western Reserve University


Cant; Language variety; Patois; Vernacular


A variety of a language with its own rules, different from other varieties of the same language in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, and structure.


Dialects are considered regional and social varieties of a language, although in certain linguistic situations it is difficult to draw the line between language and dialect [5]. The most noticeable differences among dialects surface in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Regional dialects are characteristic of certain geographical areas. The boundaries of a regional dialect, which rely on the co-occurrence of several isoglosses, are often not easy to draw, especially since no person speaks exactly the same dialect [2]. Nevertheless, dialect regions are distinguished where several linguistic variables differ from one area to the next. Regional dialects differ in the extent to which they are likely to pass on features to or inherit them fr ...

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