Language has varieties

Language has varieties. That’s our topic. Before discussing about language variaties, we should know the definition of language variety first. We can think of language variety in two different ways. First, variety can refer to the scope of sounds and sound systems that are humanly possible. Some languages spoken in southern Africa incorporate different types of clicks. There are languages that include nasal sounds, throaty guttural sounds, and variations on tone and pitch of a single sound. Humans have included an amazing array of sounds found in languages around the world. A second way we can think about language variety is within a single language. Spoken English varies across regions and even socioeconomic class. Every language has such varieties. A regional variety is usually referred to as an accent and implies a difference in pronunciation. A regional variety may also be called a dialect. Note, however, that dialects may include grammatical and lexical (or word) variations, as well as differences in pronunciation. An example of a grammatical variation that is not Standard English is I so do not want to go (so is stressed and used as an adverb rather than an adjective). The use of so in this instance has become common among certain groups, yet it is not considered “standard” English. The words bag, sack, and poke are examples of regional lexical variations. They mean the same thing; however, they are used preferentially in different regions of the United States. Individuals typically don’t think they have an accent or speak in a certain dialect because they are surrounded by others who speak the same way. We consider our own speech the norm.
English learners will have difficulty hearing and pronouncing sounds in English that do not exist in their native languages. Young students who are learning English while learning to read in English can be greatly challenged as they develop phonemic awareness and learn phonics rules for decoding text. Depending on a student’s primary language, some areas of difficulty for English learners are b/v, l/r, and p/f distinctions and developing the ability to distinguish and pronounce the large array of English vowel sounds. Helping English learners develop phonemic awareness and then helping them learn to read sounds as represented by written symbols is a critical issue. Varieties of spoken English, however, have little, if any, influence on English learners. Only if the spoken variety differs greatly in syntactic structure from standard written English might it present a challenge to the English learner. If you have questions, let me know by posting them in the comment box below!

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