Headword
Dialect
Level
D, SG/HS
Language
English
Topic
Sociolinguistics
Definition
Technically, a dialect is a variety of language specific to a regional or social community; that is, it is a variety of language whose vocabulary and grammatical features contain elements that are particular to a certain place or a certain social group. Pronunciation, or accent, is normally considered apart from dialect.
Notes
1. In popular usage, a dialect is considered to be a low-prestige, non-standard regional or social variety. This is not the technical use of the term. Standard English, technically, is considered to be a special kind of dialect, based on written rather than spoken norms, whose vocabulary and grammatical forms have been codified and widely taught in order to ease communication about a range of topics, across regional and social boundaries.

2. The features of many different dialects (including Scots) are summarised clearly and concisely in Tom McArthur, ed. (1992), The Oxford Companion to the English Language, Oxford: OUP.
Compare
Dialects in other languages
Concept
Variation
See also
Language, Non-standard language, Standard English