Language vs Dialect: Power Dynamics and Societal Influence

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Regarding the difference between a language and a dialect can be confusing. A language is a mental phenomenon, the language lives in the mind because it is a cognitive ability. However, a dialect is a certain type of linguistic variety. It is the way of speaking of a community which is a bit different from the standard one. One problem is dialectal continuum:

The distinction is very broad. If we ask how many languages there are, we will not have an exact answer because there are over 4000 and 6000 languages. It is difficult to say which is a language or which is not. The word 'language' is a concept more political than scientific, the decision in the end is political. For example, the Swedes, Danish, and Norwegians speak highly similar linguistic varieties but they speak different languages. Although they speak different languages, they understand each other. In contrast, in Italy they speak very different linguistic varieties but in the official discourse there is only one official language. So they do not understand each other because even having one language there are a lot of dialects. According to some studies, we do not understand those we do not want to understand, this is called mutual intelligibility. This is connected to the dialectal continuum: for instance, town 1 and 2 have commercial relations and they understand each other, town 3 can understand habitants from town 2 but not from town 1.

When it comes to Catalan and Valenciano, things get tricky. Catalans might say Valenciano is just a dialect of Catalan, while Valencians might argue that they have their own dialects. It's not just about how people speak—it's also about politics. Moreover, the ways in which languages are classified can reflect societal power dynamics. Catalunya has more power than Valencia, so the status of their languages reflects that.

In conclusion, we can say that language and power are linked. The ones who have more power choose whether the prestige of the language. Catalunya as it has more power than Valencia it is considered a language. But even though some languages have more prestige than others, all languages are equivalent as every language allows us to develop equivalent expressive capabilities and they follow patterns. To finish I would like to say that there are no languages better than others.

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