Difference Between Accent and Dialect (With Table)

We have often heard people from various geographical regions speak the same language in a different tone and pronunciation. Well, accent refers to the pronunciation of the same words in a different way which varies from region to region. People with different dialects not only pronounce differently but also uses a specific set of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. 

Accent vs Dialect

The difference between accent and dialect is that accent is only concerned about the variation in the pronunciation of a certain language in different parts of the world. On the other hand, dialect refers to a variety of languages in a particular region and there are variations in grammar, pronunciation, syntax, and vocabulary. 

People from different geographical areas and social communities can be spotted based on accent. An accent is a particular way of pronunciation of a language, the amount of stress given in vowels and consonants, etc. For example, the accent of a person from the UK is easily distinguishable than one from North America. 

Dialect refers to a variety of languages but in a particular geographical area. It deals with the variety of vocabulary, pronunciation, and other morphology and phonology of languages. We can say that accent is a part of dialect but not the other way around. 

Comparison Table Between Accent and Dialect

Parameters of ComparisonAccentDialect
DefinitionAn accent is associated with the pronunciation of a particular language that varies from region to region. A dialect is associated with various languages, a variety of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation of a particular area. 
OrderAn accent is a part of a dialect. Dialect is a part of a language but not a part of an accent. 
Geography Accent means the change in pronunciation associated with a particular language across various parts of the world. Dialect refers to the variety of languages along with their morphology in a specific geographical area. 
PronunciationAccent mainly focuses on the variation in the pronunciation of a language. Dialect focuses on the pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of multiple languages. 
ClassificationThere are two types of accents. One is a foreign accent and the other is how one speaks their native language. There are standard and non-standard dialects. The former is approved by several institutions while the latter isn’t. 

What is Accent?

 An accent is a way of speaking a certain language that differs with geographical area and the community where one is raised. When one grows up listening to people talk in a certain way, they inculcate the same tone and pronunciation. This is why a person from North America can easily differentiate his accent from a person who is raised in India. 

Accents are mainly of two types. One is a foreign accent and the second one is a native accent. A native accent is a way in which you speak your mother tongue or the most common language in that geographical area. A foreign accent is one you might develop over time when residing in a different region or when one is learning a foreign language. 

Accent mainly deals with the phonological aspect of a language and it is a part of a dialect. As it focuses mainly on pronunciation, some people might find it difficult to learn a foreign language because some sounds don’t exist in their native language. 

For example, a German faces difficulty learning English because certain pronunciations in English don’t exist in the German language. In this scenario, the person tries to find the closest sound to that word. 

What is Dialect?

 A dialect of one language can be distinguished from another dialect of the same language based on morphology and vocabulary. While accent only focuses on pronunciation, dialect comprises every aspect of a language and how it differs geographically (in most cases). A person can also have a different dialect based on his/her occupational and social background. 

Unlike accent that focuses on a single language and the way it is pronounced across the world, dialect refers to a variety of language along with its morphology in a particular geographical boundary. Noticing the variation in grammar and vocabulary is very important if one wants to understand the difference between dialects. 

For example, the English language is spoken by people of various nationalities. But, in American English what we know as “subway” is known as “underground” in British English. But, both these words refer to the same structure or building with similarities. Another example is the word “corn” which refers to the same thing as “oats” (used in Scotland) and “maize” (used in the US and Canada).

Since dialect refers to the variation that is constricted within the same geographical boundaries, sometimes common words can be found in two different languages within the same region. One can also find the language of a neighboring region very similar. This is due to geographical isolation such that these two languages were dialects of the same language but eventually due to geographical isolation became two different languages. 

Main Differences Between Accent and Dialect

  1. An accent is associated with the pronunciation of a particular language that varies from region to region whereas a dialect is associated with various languages, a variety of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation of a particular area. 
  2. An accent is a part of a dialect but it is not true the other way around. 
  3. Accent means the change in pronunciation associated with a particular language across various parts of the world whereas dialect refers to the variety of languages along with their morphology in a region. 
  4. Accent mainly focuses on the variation in the pronunciation of a language whereas dialect comprises of both morphology and vocabulary of the language. 
  5. There are two types of accents, namely, foreign accents and native accents. On the other hand, there are standard and non-standard dialects. The former is approved by several institutions while the latter isn’t. 

Conclusion

An accent is a part of a dialect that deals with the variation in pronunciation whereas dialect deals with the morphology and vocabulary of a language. Both accent and dialect are highly influenced by the geographical area where one is raised, the community in which one belongs, and occupation. 

Our mother tongue has a deep influence on our accent and how we pronounce various words of a foreign language. But, along with one’s geographical boundary, occupation and cultural background also influence a dialect. 

Sometimes we may also notice how two different languages have the similar vocabulary. This may happen as a result of the geographical isolation of two dialects of the same language which with time emerges as two different languages. 

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00437956.1958.11659660
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781405166256.ch7
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