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The definition is certainly the one I'm familiar with. However, there are several different notions running around (cf. liberal and conservative), and we should tease them out.

  • Wikipedia mentions a notion of dialect as tied to geography, as opposed to sociolect, ethnolect and lect. This would appear to be something of a back-formation, but as long as it's actually in use (particularly in the literature), it should be fine.
  • As the original entry noted, there is a political distinction between "language" and "dialect" that only mostly coincides with the linguistic one.
  • In other situations, dialect means "non-standard dialect", "sub-standard dialect", by comparison to a societally blessed "standard", the "sub-" designation based on the notion (itself a product of ignorance) that those who are not properly indoctrinated in the standard dialect are necessarily less intelligent or otherwise inferior to those who have been properly indoctrinated. In this view, only non-standard speakers speak a dialect (or have an accent).
  • Related to this, there is an (uncountable ?) sense of "dialect" as meaning "some unspecified non-standard dialect". E.g., "I am prepared to believe that many black women spoke in dialect and that many, being uneducated, also spoke bad English." (Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South, →ISBN, p. 33) (note the intriguing distinction between "dialect" and "bad English").

There may be other shades of meaning, particularly in technical contexts, as the notion itself has very likely evolved over time. -dmh 16:45, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

RFV discussion: April–May 2018[edit]

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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification (permalink).

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

In the count-noun sense "A dialect of a language perceived as substandard or wrong". There is one citation for this, but does it meet CFI? I am more familiar with the uncount usage in this sense. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 05:03, 24 April 2018 (UTC)

cited Kiwima (talk) 10:01, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
I'm not sure these citations attest a separate sense. ("Many even deny it" is the one that comes closest.) For example, "local dialects are spoken by the peasants and the poorest people of the towns" seems indistinguishable from sense 1. It might make more sense to expand sense 1 with ", often one contrasted with a 'standard' variety". Incidentally, I'm also concerned sense 4 is not distinct from 1 and 5, and have started Wiktionary:Tea room/2018/April#dialect. - -sche (discuss) 17:00, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
I agree that senses 1 and 3, and 5 should probably be merged. Kiwima (talk) 21:15, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
I've added a citation to the citations page: "He learned to speak Spanish first and he can't seem to put his mind on English. He thinks it's a dialect for the residents." Context would help, but "dialect" seems like it might mean "substandard language" there, and not even in the sense of "substandard form of a language", but more like "(pejorative) a language", because it's contrasting English with Spanish. Alternatively, perhaps (as suggested also by the 1700s citation) dialect used to mean language, and only context (not the lexeme itself) imparts negative valence. - -sche (discuss) 20:10, 26 April 2018 (UTC)
I think def 2 is a good definition - as there the word is used generically; I think/agree the cites for def 3 are really just examples of def 1, that is the context implies negativity, but it is not inherent in the word; def 5, however, should remain separate since it is only an analogy, because a computing language isn't really a "language". Note that I have added def 6 referring to birdsong - also, not a "language" in the normal acceptation of that word. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 01:56, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
My reference to sense 5 was to the one that existed prior to this diff. - -sche (discuss) 02:18, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
Ah, I see! - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 22:33, 27 April 2018 (UTC)

RFV-resolved Kiwima (talk) 22:34, 5 May 2018 (UTC)