On 25 May, Basilius wrote:

>On Thu, 25 May 2000 11:56:12 +0300, Dan Sulani <[log in to unmask]>
>>As someone once said:
>>"A language is a dialect with an army and a navy."
>- Who, BTW? I really like this definition!

I heard it maybe close to 30 years ago in my
linguistics studies. (just goes to show you what
gets transferred into long-term memory! :-)  )
I seem to recall, but don't hold me to this, that
it was orignally utttered by one of the famous
early linguists (late 1800's, early 1900's). But I
could be wrong. I tried going back over my notes
from then, and also the linguistics books I have,
(It's simply amazing to see what I once knew! ;-)  )
but I couldn't find the quote. Sorry.


>If you make abstraction from sensible issues of politics and
>self-/group- identification, you'll see, roughly, three sets of
>1) grouping idiolects on 'purely linguistic' grounds, ...

>2) if you take into account sociolinguistic factors, you'll notice
>that some dialects are known and imitated in a large area outside
>their 'native' territory. ...

>3) Finally, you can take into account the trends in the conscious
>normalization and codification, and then mainly deal with _standards_....

>Does the above miss anything important?

The problem is, IMHO, what happens after all the above
analyses have been made, and the experts conclude that
the people who speak X are merely speaking a variation
of the prestige dialect, and yet, the speakers of X, for any
number of nonlinguistic reasons still consider themselves
special. (And since lang is an important symbol of identity,
they must assert that X is an independent language.)
Thus the "definition" I cited above comes into play.
In this situation, in order to be considered
special by _everybody else_, they must link their way of speaking to
some nonlinguistic means of persuasion, hence the military
metaphor. But, IMHO, it could be accomplished just as well
by financial, scientific, sporting, cultural, etc. means.
In other words, you speak a separate language if you can
convince --- any way you can --- other people that you do.
It's generally done by acquiring nationhood, implied by the
"definition".  What's interesting, is that English is spoken as the
standard language in a number of nations, whose people
(usually :-) ) all insist that they speak the same language across
national boundaries.

Dan Sulani
likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a.

A word is an awesome thing.