Difference Between Language and Dialect

Main Difference – Language vs Dialect

Language is the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Dialect is a variety of language distinguished by grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary, spoken in a specific area by a specific group of people. This is the main difference between language and dialect. Let’s explore the differences between language and dialect in this article.Difference Between Language and Dialect - infographic

What is Language

Language is an abstract system of symbols and meanings governed by grammatical rules. There are two main aspects of language: spoken (oral) language and written language. Orality is the primary aspect of a language since the function of writing and reading follows speaking and listening.

Although language is governed by a set of rules, it is not static. The language evolves and changes and every moment. For example, new words, new sentence structures, etc. are constantly introduced to the language. With the passage of time, they become a part of the language. Similarly, some words become archaic and go out of use or change their meaning. It is the mainly the speakers of the language that are directly responsible for these changes. Language is a fascinating subject, and it can be studied under various categories such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.

There are a lot of languages in the world. In 2015, SIL Ethnologue cataloged 7,102 living human languages. English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and German are some of the most spoken languages in the world. Even these languages have different varieties known as dialects.

Main Difference - Language vs Dialect

Primary Language Families

What is Dialect

Dialect is a version of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. This could also be explained as a social or regional variety of a language distinguished by grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary; this is especially a way of speaking that differs from the standard variety of the language. For example, Cantonese and Mandarin are often classified as dialects of Chinese.

Dialects can be classified into two categories: standard and non-standard.  A standard dialect is a dialect that is approved and supported by institutions. Likewise, non-standard dialects are those that are not supported by institutions.  For example, some dialects of English include American English, Indian English, and Australian English, etc. There are sub-dialects within these dialects as well.

In addition, there is no globally accepted standard to distinguish the difference between language and a dialect of a language. One of the most common ways of identifying the difference is their mutual intelligibility. If two speakers of two varieties can understand each other, then it is accepted that the two varieties are two dialects; if not, they are considered to be two different languages.

Difference Between Language and Dialect

Dialects of Turkish language

Difference Between Language and Dialect


Language is the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

Dialect is a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group.


Language can be categorized into two main parts: spoken language and written language.

Dialects can be categorized into two main parts: standard dialects and non-standard dialects.

Mutually Intelligibility

Languages of the same language family are often not mutually intelligible.

Dialects of the same language are often mutually intelligible.

Image Courtesy:

“Primary Human Language Families Map” By PiMaster3 – Own work via  

“Turkey Turkish dialects map (Main subgroups)”  By Photo Balkan – Own work via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

Related pages

define blank versewhat is a photoautotrophcompare and contrast light microscopes and electron microscopesnucleolus and nucleushow to identify adjectives in a sentencesodium bicarbonate and baking soda is the samelc of vernier calipermolecular formula for methyl alcoholradial symmetry animalsexamples of crystalline solidsglycosidic bond in sucrosedistinguish between mitosis and cytokinesiswhat is morphology and syntaxporpoise vs dolphinswarm blooded creatureswhat is the formula for wood alcoholdefinition transnational corporationdrank drunk grammardefine polar moleculesionic metallic covalentdifference between turtle & tortoisemono vs polyunsaturated fatswhat is the difference between translation and transcriptionis blackstrap molasses the same as molassespsychodynamic psychoanalyticdifference between simile and metaphor with exampleswhat is difference between watt and voltschlerenchymawhat is difference between corn and maizecharacteristics of medieval poetrydifference between nitrite and nitrateroyal icing for piping on fondantvernier caliper definitioncalculating centripetal forceexamples of indefinite pronouns singularexample of predicate nominative sentenceanthropology and sociology definitiondifference between rock and oremolecular structure of baking sodadifference between holy basil and sweet basilis maltose sugarpurpose of the prologuedifference between siberian husky and alaskan huskywhat is the struggle between the antagonist and protagonist calledis it aunty or auntieassonance in poetry definitioncytokinesis plantsdifference between a sonogram and an ultrasoundcompare and contrast conductors and insulatorspail bucketbaking soda bicarbonatecpap and bipap differencewhat is the difference between consumer surplus and producer surpluspredicate subject exampleshyper and hypoglycemiaenglish mastiff life expectancytetrad coccismooch kiss lipsarchaebacteria vs eubacteriais baking soda the same as bicarbonate of sodapast participle of leaddifference between siberian husky and alaskan malamutedifference between fairy and faeriedefine interrogative pronounsisopropyl structural formulahow to calculate vernier caliper least countdifference eukaryotic and prokaryoticprotoplasmic definitionwhat is a cold blooded animaldefinition hypomaniacondensation polymerisationapa citation footnotesallomorphsbinary fisssiondifference between pig iron and wrought ironwhat is the difference between dewpoint and relative humidity