Ethnolect is a variety of a language spoken by a certain ethnic/cultural subgroup and serves as a distinguishing mark of social identity. The term combines the concepts of an ethnic group and dialect.

Example: African American Vernacular in the American English context as a feature of African American or Black society.

Ethnicity and Dialect If the term "ethnolect" embodies a confluence of issues relating to ethnic groups and dialect it appears as a crossroads where linguistics intersects with ethnicity. Joshua Fishman in The Handbook of Sociolinguistics (1997) argues that "ethnicity" signifies the "identificational dimension of culture" and emphasizes that "the perspectival quality of ethnicity means that its specification or attribution is fundamentally subjective, variable and very possibly non-consensual" (329). This seems somewhat fluid and amorphous a concept but in reality Fishman frames his discussion in terms of modernity and the process of creating a national or Standard language. He argues that "modernization itself tends to render the language and ethnicity link more salient in consciousness" (330) and further:

The transformation from an ethnic group to a nationality corresponds to (without being solely responsible for) this transformation of a quiescent feature of daily life into a mobilizing dimension for social action, a dimension which combines reason with commitment that is above or beyond reason, in the pursuit of solutions to the problems of that community that is defined by a particular language and ethnic link. (330)

Ethnicity, therefore, has the potential to dramatically influence linguistic variation in ways that reflect a social dimension of language usage. The way in which ethnic groups interact with one another and respond to modern situations shapes their distinct usage of language, giving rise to a regional dialects defined by unique phonological, syntactic and lexical variation. Modernity, in Fishman's opinion, has the capacity, however, to dramatically increase the importance of a language as it becomes a social marker for a particular ethnic group. Essentially, "dialect", or "vernacular", as being the second element in the term "ethnolect", represents a conflict between the social factors involved in language standardization and the dialect speech community's response to these factors. Ethnolect, therefore, embodies much of the tenuous issues that are involved in ethnicity, i.e., the modern pursuit of Nationalism, and language, i.e. the linguistic variation involved in the proliferation of regional dialects.

The term was first used to describe the monolingual English of descendants of European immigrants in Buffalo, New York (Carlock, E. and Wölck, W. 'A method for isolating diagnostic linguistic variables: The Buffalo ethnolects experiment' in D. Sankoff and H. Cedergren, ed.: Variation Omnibus. Edmonton 1981:17-24).

Because there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, some scholars understand the term ethnolect as "language or dialect".

ee also


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ethnolect — noun A language variety specific to an ethnic group Ebonics is an ethnolect of African Americans. See Also: dialect, idiolect, sociolect, ecolect …   Wiktionary

  • Ebonics — The term Ebonics was originally intended and sometimes used for the language of all people of African ancestry, or for that of Black North American and West African people, emphasizing the African roots of the former; since 1996 it has been… …   Wikipedia

  • Dari (Zoroastrian) — Dari Spoken in Yazd and Kerman, (Iran) Region Central Iran Native speakers 8,000 15,000 native speakers  (date missing) …   Wikipedia

  • Dialect — This article is about dialects of spoken and written languages. For dialects of programming languages, see Dialect (computing). For the literary device, see Eye dialect. The term dialect (from the Greek Language word dialektos, Διάλεκτος) is used …   Wikipedia

  • Oakland, California — Oakland redirects here. For other uses, see Oakland (disambiguation). Oakland   City   City of Oakland …   Wikipedia

  • German hip hop — The term German Hip Hop denotes hip hop music produced in Germany. Elements of American hip hop culture, such as graffiti art and breakdancing, diffused into Western Europe in the early 1980s. The first German hip hop artists emerged in the mid… …   Wikipedia

  • African American Vernacular English — African American topics History  Atlantic slave trade · Maafa Slavery in the United States Military history of African Americans …   Wikipedia

  • Variety (linguistics) — A variety of a language is a form that differs from other forms of the language systematically and coherently. Variety is a wider concept than style of prose or style of language .Some writers in sociolinguistics use the term lect , apparently a… …   Wikipedia

  • New York dialect — The New York dialect of the English language is spoken by many European Americans, and some non European Americans who were raised in New York City and much of its metropolitan area. It is one of the most recognizable dialects within American… …   Wikipedia

  • Middle Persian — Spoken in Iran Extinct evolved into Modern Persian by the 9th century Language family Indo European Indo Iranian …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.