The Linguistic Difference Between Language and Dialect

In a Ted-Ed lesson written by Martin Hilpert and directed by LuĂ­sa M H Copetti of Hype Animation, narrator Addison Anderson explains the difference between language and dialect, specifically posing the question as to when the difference applies. In some cases, speakers of the same language have no trouble getting past regional dialects to carry on a conversation while others have much greater difficulty understanding each other. History shows that these issues have less to do with language and more to do with politics.

In order to establish and maintain centralized governments, clear territorial boundaries, and state-sponsored education systems, many nation-states promoted a standardized language. Which form of speech was chosen to be the standard language was usually based on what people spoke in the capital. And while other forms of speech persisted, they were often treated as inferior. This tradition extended across the globe with European colonization.

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