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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Geolinguistics: Language Dynamics and Ethnolinguistic Geography.
"'Easy Geolinguistics' and Cartographers." Discussion Papers in Geolinguistics 19-21:68-70.
The third chapter takes the geolinguistics of the Western Cape as point in case so as to supply a sub-regional resolution.
Finally, the fourth chapter focuses on the metropolitan geolinguistics of the metropolitan Cape Town, thus providing an urbanised resolution.
Geolinguistics in ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Volume 61 Number
As a result, the historical diffusion of linguistic innovations would have been not only a question of physical distance, like the wave-model proposes, but also, like modern geolinguistics assumes, aspects like population size and its spatial distribution (concentration and dispersion), as well as the demographic and functional roles of urban centres and their respective interaction (communication networking), may help to understand why two given localities in the past shared or not certain linguistic features, or why a given innovation appeared and spread to a centre C from a centre B rather than from centre A (Hernandez Campoy 1999a: 149-150; 1999b: 7-11) (2).
Geolinguistics has enriched this model in two directions.
Remembering the hysteria that followed the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime last year, read about the underlying attitudes that result in our various forms of cultural taboos in Allen Walker Read's "The Geolinguistics of Verbal Taboo."
In January 1970 his topic was "The Geolinguistics of Verbal Taboo." In May 1974 he spoke on "A Planetary Perspective on the Migration of Words." In October 1978 he dealt with "The Evocative Power of National Names." His lecture in December 1978 was on "The Scope of Geolinguistics." In other talks he dealt with "The Cliche and Platitude in Language Economy" (November 1979), "The Westward Sweep of the American Vocabulary" (March 1981), "Milestones in the Branching of British and American Vocabulary" (January 1983), and "The Allegiance to Dictionaries in American Linguistic Attitudes" (December 1984).
THE WORD geolinguistics may not be very familiar to a number of you in this audience and perhaps I should preface my remarks with a few words about this field.
The division of labor in the field of linguistics has resulted in special names like sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, geolinguistics, and others--until one begins to wonder about the boundaries of linguistics itself.