A great number of words specifically dialectal appeared asa result of intense borrowing from other languages, others are words that have disappeared from the national literary language or become archaic, poetical, such as gang-'go', OE sangan; bairn-.'child', OE beam, etc. Thus, the lexical differences between the English national language and its dialects are due to the difference in the spheres of application, different tempoes of development, different contacts with other peoples, and deliberate elaboration of literary norms.
The Relationship Between the English National Languaga and British Local Dialects
The local dialects in Britain are sharply declining in importance at the present time; they are being obliterated by the literary language. This process is two-fold. On the one hand, lexical units of the literary language enter local dialects, ousting some of their words and expressions. On the other hand, dialectal words penetrate into the national literary language. Many frequent words of common use are dialectal in origin, such as girl, one, raid, glamour, etc. Some words from dialects are used as technical terms or professionalisms in the literary language, e.g. the Scotch cuddy-'ass' is used in the meaning of jack-screw and lug-'ear' in the meaning of handle.
Dialect peculiarities (phonetical, grammatical, but mainly lexical) modify in varying degrees the language spoken in different parts of Britain. These speech-forms are called regional variants of the national language and they are gradually replacing the old local dialects. It should be noted that the word dialect is used in two meanings nowadays: to denote the old dialects which are now dying away, and to denote the regional variants, i.e. a literary standard with some features from local dialects.
The most marked difference between dialects and regional variants in the field of phonetics lies in the fact that dialects possess phonemic distinctions, while regional variants are characterized by phonetic distinctions. In matters of vocabulary and grammar the difference is in the greater number and greater diversity of local peculiarities in the dialects as compared with the regional variants.
Local Dialects in the USA
The English language ІП the United States is characterized by relative uniformity throughout the country. One can travel three thousand miles without encountering any but the slightest dialect differences. Nevertheless, regional variations in speech undoubtedly exist and they have been observed and recorded by a number of investigators.
The following three major belts of dialects have so far been identified, each with its own characteristic features: Northenr Midland and Southern, Midland being in turn divided into North Midland and South Midland.
The differences in pronunciation between American dialects are most apparent, but they seldom interfere with understanding. Distinctions in grammar are scarce. The differences in vocabulary are rather numerous, but they are easy to pick up. Cf., e.g., Eastern New England sour-milk cheese. Inland Northern Dutch cheese, New York City pot cheese for Standard American cottage cheese (творог).
The American linguist "O. F. Emerson maintains that American English had not had time to break up into widely diverse dialects and he believes that in the course of time the American dialects might finally become nearly as distinct as the dialects in Britain. He is certainly greatly mistaken. In modern times dialect divergence cannot increase. On the contrary, in the United States, as elsewhere, the national language is tending to wipe out the dialect distinctions and to become still more uniform.
Comparison of the dialect differences in the' British Isles and in the USA reveals that not only are they less numerous and far less marked in the USA, but that the very nature of the local distinctions is different. What is usually known as American dialects is closer in nature to regional variants of the literary language. The problem of discriminating between literary and dialect speech patterns in the USA is much more complicated than in Britain. Many American linguists point out that American English differs from British English in having no one locality whose speech patterns have come to be recognized as the model for the rest of the country.
Summary and Conclusions
1. English is the national language of England proper, the USA, Australia and some provinces of Canada. It was also at different times imposed on the inhabitants of the former and present British colonies and protectorates as well as other Britain- and US-dominated territories, where the population has always stuck to its own mother tongue.
2. British English, American English and Australian English are variants of the same language, because they serve all spheres of verbal communication. Their structural peculiarities, especially morphology, syntax and word-formation, as well as their word-stock and phonetic system are essentially the same. American and Australian standards are slight modifications of the norms accepted in the British Isles. The status of Canadian English has not yet been established.
3. The main lexical differences between the variants are caused by the lack of equivalent lexical units in one of them, divergences in the semantic structures of polysemantic words and peculiarities of usage of some words on different territories.
4. The so-called local dialects in the British Isles and in the USA .are used only by the rural population and only for the purposes of oral
communication. In both variants local distinctions are more marked in pronunciation, less conspicuous in vocabulary and insignificant in grammar
5. The British local dialects can be traced back to Old English dialects. Numerous and distinct, they are characterized by phonemic and structural peculiarities. The local dialects are being gradually replaced by regional variants of the literary language, i. e. by a literary standard with a proportion of local dialect features.
6. Local variations in the USA are relatively small. What is called by tradition American dialects is closer in nature to regional variants of the national literary language.