What is Dialect? Definition, Examples of English Dialects

Dialect definition: A dialect is a form of a language that is specific to a particular region or group.

What is Dialect?

A dialect refers to a branch of a language. Within this branch, different terms are used for different things.

Dialects are usually formed around particular regions. However, they may also be used within certain groups of people.

For example, in The United States, there is a particular dialect in the Southern states. Within that Southern dialect, however, there may be subgroups who speak yet another dialect.

Foods are the most common terms to change within a dialect. What one dialect might call shrimp, another might call crawfish or crawdads.

Dialect vs. Accent

dialect definition literature Dialect and accent are two different aspects of language. However, there are some overlaps.

An accent is also specific to a region. In English, there might be an American, British, or Australian accent. An accent is an inflection that occurs with word pronunciation.

A dialect is entirely different words or ways of communicating altogether. Dialect goes beyond mere pronunciation.

Examples of Accent:

  • An American might pronounce the word, “hello,” by speaking the “h” sound.
  • A Brit might pronounce the word, “hello,” without speaking the “h” sound.
  • This is still the same word, just spoken with a different accent.

Examples of Dialect:

  • A Northern American might say, “hello.”
  • A Southern American might say, “howdy.”
  • This is an example of the differences in dialect.

American English Dialect Examples

dialect literary definition Different dialects exists in American English, and in all areas of spoken English. There are dialects for each region, in fact. Even if the particular peoples of that region do not think they speak in a dialect, they probably do.

Some of the more pronounced American regional dialects are the Northeastern (East Coast) and Southern dialects.

Someone from the East Coast might say, “What’s poppin’?” A Southern American would understand this, but would probably never say it.

Someone from the South might say,” How’r y’ll?” A Northeastern American would understand this, but probably never say it.

Example of Dialect in Literature

an example of dialectDialect is used commonly in literature. An author may elect to use dialect if he or she wants to represent the characters well. In order to do so, the author will write dialogue specific to the region of the character.

Authors want their characters to seem genuine; therefore, they must write dialogue between characters in such a way as they would speak it.

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion does this well. A Cockney girl is “adopted” by a well-to-do gentleman who tries to change both her dialect and hear accent to Standard British English.

For many, this play is difficult to read because the Cockney is only specific to that region. However, if the play work not written with the Cockney dialect, it would not be effective at all.


Define dialect: the definition of dialect is a linguistic variety peculiar to a particular geographical region or used by members of a specific social class.

In summary, a dialect is a type of language that is spoken by a particular region or group of people.

Dialect is much more broad and far reaching that accent. Most dialects will include with them their own accents, but they are more than mere pronunciation differences.