The term dialect is often used in the sense of regional, local or geographic varieties of a language mainly used in oral speech. A language belongs to a nation or nations, as English does, therefore it is a social phenomenon, understandable by all its members. A language is not a complex combination of individual speech forms, but it has its literary orthoepic (pronunciation) and orthographic (written) rules.
These are regarded as an object of sociolinguistics, which is an interdisciplinary branch of modern linguistics. The phonetic and phonological features of a language — dialect relationship, natural bilingualism and also some types of speech communities classified by their social characteristics are studied in a new branch of phonetics, namely social phonetics. This is an artificial bilingualism is studied in comparative typological phonetics or phonogy which is a part of comparative — typological linguistics . Abroad it is known as contrastive linguistics (it is branch is contrastive phonetics) more often used in the USA. It is also called confrontative linguistics in Germany.
The individual speech of a member of a language community is known as an idiolect. Idiolects and dialect speakers are identifiable by their sounds, tone or melody, words and also by expressions and constructions, i. e. by their phonetics, grammatical, lexical and stylistic features. The distinction between a language and dialect is based on criterion of functional approach. Functionally a language is characterized by the acceptance of the communication unit and elaboration of function in society. If two or more languages are spoken (as in Canada English and French are official languages), they are called bilinguals (speakers in two languages) and this process is known as bilingualism. Bilingualism may be of two types: 1) natural, when people speak two languages which have mutual contact; 2) artificial bilingualism appears in second language learning when the mother tongue (its pronunciation habits, grammar, lexicology) influences the language studied.
Now let us look through the principal types of English pronunciation with its dialects which is the result of social, educational, trade, cultural, migration and urbanization factors. Correlation between these factors may be noticed in the process of language change and dialect variations. Ch. Barber states: «One way in which the English language has been changing in recent years is the relationship between the different kinds of English spoken in England, and in people’s attitudes to; these varieties of the language» .
Other ways of changing RP may be explained by the influence of American English pronunciation types heard in the cinema, on the wireless and television and on records of popular singers etc. A. C. Gimson also pointed out the influence of the London dialect to RP such as the pronunciations of [o:] instead of [ɔ:], [ʌ] instead of [ɜ:], monophthongization of [eɪ] as [ɛ:] in words like saw [so:], fur [fʌ:], day [dɛ:]. In modern RP pronunciation the influence of Southern English may be found such as the unrounding of [u] = [ə] (good), coalescence of [ɔ:] whith [ɔə] (more) and sometimes with [uə] (poor), centralization of the first element of the diphthong [ou] = [əu] (go) .
These changes may be found in the Australian English pronunciation in which they are regarded as the orthoepic norm. These examplese show the intradialectal influences and contacts between the principal types of pronunciation (RP and GAu). These are also intraidiolectal phonetic variations defined as the varuations in the pronunciation of one and the same native speaker of a language, i.e. those within one and the same idiolect. V. A. Vassiliyev distinguished two types of intraidiolectal variations. The first type of intraidiolectal phonetic variations are spontaneous, accidental, unintentional, unconditioned, non-functional, and therefore absolutely non-distinctive linguistically. For example, though the pronunciation of one and the same sound, word or a phase may be different acoustically, through identical and non-distinctive from the linguistic point of view.
The second type of intradialectical phonetic variations may be intentional and conditioned by different styles of speech , i.e. colloquial and full styles of pronunciation (see next paragraph).
Some terms have been suggested for use in the intradialectal and interidiolectal phonetic variations. The term diaphone (D. Jones) is defined as a sound to denote a sound together with other sounds which replace it consistently in the pronunciation of other speakers. For example, different types of [ai] or [r] may be regarded as members of the same diaphone. The idiophone is used to denote a sound pronounced in one idiolect in place of a different sound pronounced in other idiolects in the same phonetic context as allophones of the same phoneme. These terms are equivalent to free variants of phonemes. Free variants of phonemes are those which substitute each other in the same context. It is possible to use the term variphone in the sense of free variations of phoneme in the same context. The term variphone may be used not only in the interdialectal and interidiolectal variations but also within one and the same language . For example, in the word direct which is transcribed [dɪrect] and [daɪrect] the phonemes [ɪ] and [ai] may be members of a variphone. Likewise, in the word again [əʹgeɪn], [əʹgɛn] the vowels [eɪ] and [ɛ] may also be members of a variphone. There are also accentual and intonational variations of which the latter have not been investigated at all.
As to the teaching standart of English, V. A. Vassilyev suggested two basic criteria for choice: 1) the degree of understandability of this or that type has been scientifically investigated and practically described in a number of textbooks, dictionaries, audiovisual aids etc. These criteria have been applied to both RP and GA which are chosen as teaching units in many countries.
National (Literary) English Language:
Canadian English — In Canada
Australian English (GAu) — In Australia
New Zealand English — In New Zealand
South African English — In South Africa
Western American Pronunciation, Eastern American English, Southern American Pronunciation — In the USA
Southern English Pronunciation (RP), Northern English Pronunciation, Scottish Pronunciation (GB) — In the British Isles.
1. A. A. Aбдуазизов. Сопоставительная фонология разносистемных языков и обучение произношению. Проблемы фонологии и морфонологии. М; 1975, с. 173–182.
2. Ch. Barber. Linguistic Change in Present- day English. London, 1964, p. 16.
3. A. C. Gimson. Phonetic Change and the RP Vowel System. //In honour of D. Jones, Longmans, London, 1964, p. 133.
4. V. A. Vassilyev. English Phonetics. A theoretical course. M., 1970, p. 63.
5. R. U. Cosern.Teaching pronunciatin. K. 1989 p.57.