Written by Dyami Millarson
A dialect is, in a certain sense, a language that is elected to die. In other words, languages branded as dialects have been singled out for disappearance from the face of the earth. Many who call such languages dialects, which are often useless in their eyes anyway and merely outdated relics from the past, ascribe to the idea that the death of dialects is inevitable, and it is even a sign of progress.
People see dialects as obstacles that must either be eradicated actively or passively be allowed to die off. A negative connotation is inherently linked with the modern concept of dialect, and this cannot be removed from it. In fact, dialect is, I would argue, inherently linguicidal. People insisting that they use this term in a neutral sense are perpetuating this negative connotation.
A dialect is often defined within a geographic framework as a particular regional form or variety of a language, it may also be defined within a sociological framework as a particular social form or variety of a language. A dialect may or may not have its own grammar and vocabulary, and so this vagueness means that a dialect may or may not be a language of its own.
In other words, (1) a dialect could indeed be a manner of speech that is different, akin to the concept of accent, or (2) it could be a full-fledged language of its own. This ambiguity could simply be solved by simply subsuming all dialects in sense 1 under accent, and subsuming all dialects in sense 2 under language.
A dialect is often perceived as a horrible aberration from a language’s true form. The term ‘dialect’ invokes in people’s minds an abomination much like Frankenstein’s monster. Truly, people seen dialects as deformed and therefore wrong.
A dialect does, in other words, purportedly not possess equal legitimacy with any language (i.e., a dialect means inferior language) and is automatically delegitimised by virtue of receiving the stigma of being called a dialect, which has about the same negative effect as a human being called a retard or lunatic.
The stigmatisation of languages will continue indefinitely unless measures are taken to do away with the concept of dialect and everything that has been employed as a euphemism for this highly stigmatising concept.