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a section of linguistics that deals with dialects. In analyzing a dialectal language in its territorial variation, all the linguistic features in the system—phonetic, grammatical, word-forming, and lexical—are considered. Common elements, which belong to all the dialects, as well as distinctive elements, which are present in only a few of them, are distinguished.

Dialectal differences are the primary object of dialectological study; a hierarchy of the dialectal differences pertaining to the various levels of the language system, their place on the particular level, and the interaction among the levels are established. The division of a language into dialects is the second main division of dialectology. In the opinion of the Romance dialectologists of the Paris and neo-Italian schools, only the boundaries between the individual dialectal phenomena and their projection on a map actually exist; these boundaries are isoglosses, which do not form any kind of unit, and therefore dialects cannot be distinguished. German and Swiss dialectologists have shown that dialects are a real phenomenon and that they have a nucleus and a border zone, or “zone of vibration,” represented by a bundle of isoglosses. Soviet dialectologists also hold such views, giving special consideration to the elaboration of principles for selecting typical isoglosses, those that are the most essential for the dialectal division of a language. Their work has resulted in the creation of a new dialectological map of the Russian language.

Descriptive dialectology is concerned with the study of dialects in their contemporary state; its primary research methods are the monographic study of a dialect or dialectal phenomenon and the methods of linguistic geography. Historical dialectology deals with dialects in their historical development; its main methods are the study of literary monuments in combination with a retrospective examination of modern dialectal data. Historical dialectology also uses extralinguistic facts, such as data from history, archaeology, ethnography, and social and cultural history; dialectological data are in turn used by these sciences. Dialectology is one of the most important sources for the study of the history of a language, since phenomena that have been lost from the literary language and that are not reflected in written monuments are often preserved in dialects. The interrelation between literary language and dialects has differed in various countries and eras, but throughout its history literary language has always felt the influence of dialects and has been enriched by them.

As late as the 19th century, dialectal features were viewed as deviations from the standard. In the early 19th century, interest in folk culture, including folk speech, increased; during this period dialectology was still not distinguished sufficiently clearly from ethnography and folklore. Toward the end of the 19th century a great deal of data was collected about many languages, and a new stage in the development of dialectology was beginning; linguistic geography was emerging. In the 20th century, dialectological atlases of various national languages and regional atlases have been created, work has been done on atlases of closely related languages, questions dealing with the theory of linguistic geography have been treated, and the summarization of the large amount of dialectal material presented in the atlases has begun.


Avanesov, R. I. Ocherki russkoi dialektologii, part 1. Moscow, 1949.
Zhylko, F. T. Narysy z dialektolohii ukrains’koi movy, 2nd ed. Kiev, 1966.
Zhirmunskii, V. M. Natsional’nyi iazyk i sotsial’nye dialekty. Leningrad, 1936.
Zhirmunskii, V. M. Nemetskaia dialektologiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Narysy pa belaruskai dyialektalohii. Edited by R. I. Avanesov. Minsk, 1964.
Russkaia dialektologiia, 2nd ed. Edited by R. I. Avanesov and V. G. Orlova. Moscow, 1965.
Russkaia dialektologiia. Edited by P. S. Kuznetsov. Moscow, 1971.


References in periodicals archive ?
Albeit being a scholarly publication that gives evidence of theoretical principles typical of geolinguistics as an academic discipline, the atlas also hinges on clear research in application functions, and supplies useful information that could be applied in the language management environment.
It is envisaged that not only sociolinguists and language planners interested in the academics of geolinguistics would find the atlas useful, but also language managers working in different tiers of government.
The second chapter contains information on the national geolinguistic patterns in South Africa and hosts a table with all 354 magisterial district codes, as well as the total population distribution and change between the national censuses of 1991 and 2001.
Finally, it is necessary to emphasize that, even in a non-speculative paper, geolinguistics does not provide us with a complete picture of the complexity behind the diffusion of linguistic innovations.
On geolinguistics, its theoretical tenets and applications, see also Callary (1975), Trudgill (1974, 1983, 1986), Larmouth (1981), Gerritsen (1988) and Britain (2002), among others.
I draw extensively on the critique of spatial diffusion models drawn by the human geographer Derek Gregory (1985), and suggest some future directions for research on geolinguistic diffusion.
Dialect and space: a geolinguistic study of speech variables in the Fens.
3) The issue featured a memoriam about Allen written by Professor Jesse Levitt, as well as a previously unpublished speech Allen presented in 1970, "The Geolinguistics of Verbal Taboo," edited by Professor Levitt.
Read then refers, with approval, to Mario Pei's formulations of the methods of geolinguistics in 1965 in his Invitation to Linguistics:
Jesse Levitt is Editor emeritus of Geolinguistics, the journal of the American Society of Geolinguistics.
It has occurred to me, perhaps somewhat whimsically, that we might even have a pun here, that geolinguistics is down-to-earth linguistics.
Geolinguistics can help, I believe, by its emphasis on learning the cold facts about language usage scattered over the earth.