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  5. "Is this a dialect or a langu…

"Is this a dialect or a language?"

Translation:Onko tämä murre vai kieli?

July 10, 2020



I am wondering, does anyone know the different situations you use tai vs vai?


"Tai" is inclusive whereas "vai" is exclusive (meaning that is assumed that the presented options are the only two options available and it can't be both or neither).


So how is vai appropriate here? Since we all speak one dialect or another of one or other language.


Sometimes it is not clear if a form of language is so different that it is a separate language, or if it is only a dialect of a (bigger) language. The dialect of Rauma, my home town, is sometimes proudly called "Rauman giäl" (Rauman kieli), as it has the reputation to be the most peculiar of the Finnish dialects. So you could ask when you here people talk in the market place of Rauma: "Is this a dialect or a language?" Apparently, language has more prestige than dialect.


Because a dialect and a language are different things?


As I understand it a dialect is a variety of a language. I use a relatively standard British English. Or a Northern English variety of English. These are both dialects and a language. Is this post written in a dialect or a language? Both and!


Dialect is a hyponym of language, or at least of a specific language, so a dialect by itself can't be a language. Someone who has previously been exposed to only one Scandinavian language and then becomes exposed to another one may very well wonder whether it's a dialect or another language.


Dialect is a hyponym of language, you say? Like oak is a hyponym of tree? Is this an oak or a tree? It's both because an oak is a tree! Regarding language in Scandinavia. Is Danish a language or a dialect? It's both the national language of Denmark and a dialect of Continental Scandinavian.


This is the first time I've heard of a language called "Continental Scandinavian", and the first time I've heard Danish being called a dialect. An oak isn't represenatitive of all trees, just like how a dialect doesn't represent an entire language.


I believe the thing is that there is both a linguistic and political dimension to the notions of dialect and language, which is why the distinction can be unclear or vary depending on the point of view. It's a status thing as well, and can get quite controversial, esp in the case of regional/minority languages.

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