> There exists objective reasons to describe varieties as dialects or
Those reasons, however, largely depend on the purpose/motivation of
"classification". So, please, define what language/dialect is/isn't.
Everyone will find both examples and counter-examples. ;-)
I believe there are objective criteria.
For example, in the case of Sicilian versus standard Italian,
If we ask basic phonological questions about Sicilian :
Q1 Does this variety of Latin-based language have geminate consonants ?
Q2 Does this " " " accept word-final consonants ?
Q3 Does this " " " accept consonant clusters ?
These basic questions can be asked about any language.
They are not prefabricated to show Sicilian should be considered Italian.
Then we can see that Sicilian is the same as Italian and that no other
Romance language behaves like Sicilian and Standard Italian when it comes to
any of these questions.
Q1 both have phonological geminates for most consonants.
This exists only for r and rr elsewhere.
Q2 both do not accept word-final consonants,
elision after -r- and -n- in fast speech is the only exception
Q3 both accept (heavy) word-initial clusters
In fact, Sicilian has reinforced feature 3 and accepts #mp and #nd-, which
std Italian does not have.
In other words, Sicilian is a typical Italian dialect.
And I suppose Corsican would pass this test in the same way.
Now let's take Northern French, supposedly a "separate" language.
The Swadesh list indicates that nearly 100% of the basic vocabulary is
This can be compared with English / German 72% and French / Italian 79%
I wonder how much is shared between std Italian and Corsican / Sicilian.
I'm afraid those people who misuse the word "language" just forget how much
is _shared_ by dialects of the same language and take secondary features as
reasons to dismember these dialects into separate "languages". In fact, in
that kind of approach, the word "dialect" no longer exists : it has been
replaced by the word "language".
I disagree with this misuse of the words "language" and "dialect".
A dialect is a particular variety of a language that displays a certain
number of specific features, but nevertheless shares most other features
with other dialects.
r-dropping English is not a separate language, it's just a r-dropping
_dialect_ of English.