How many Different English Dialects are there?
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Even though it is impossible to estimate the exact number of dialects in the English language that are spoken around the world, it is estimated that over 160 different English dialects exist around the world. And this number is rapidly increasing thanks to the differences in delivery and pronunciation in local cultures around the world.
Table of Contents
- English: Mother Tongue for more than 350 Million people
- What is an English Dialect?
- What are the Most Common Dialects in the English Language?
- Dialects of English in the United States
- Dialects of English in England and Scotland
English: Mother Tongue for more than 350 Million people
English has rapidly grown into becoming the global language of communication and business. Thanks to the spread of the culture and subsequent growth of the British Empire, English has become the bridge that is used to communicate by people around the world.
Every single country where English is spoken in some capacity has its own different dialect of English language delivery. This primarily exists thanks to the tendency of humans to personalize the delivery of what they want to convey closer to the accents from their first language.
What is an English Dialect?
This widespread expansion has witnessed the language evolve from standard British notation to a diverse range of different words that have become part of the language with time.
Just like with many languages, the specific accent of English relies heavily on the region that it is spoken in. However, an accent is simply how people pronounce words while a dialect involves not only pronunciations, but also different vocabulary and grammar. This deviation in grammar and vocabulary of the language is referred to as a dialect.
Dialects are massively impacted by the first language of the local population. The specific way of delivery over time in a certain region gets to be known as a dialect.
What are the Most Common Dialects in the English Language?
A wide range of dialects stems from a hybrid combination of oral understanding of the language combined with the personalized delivery of a zone. This has resulted in hundreds of dialects evolving around the world to present a comprehensive global understanding and delivery of the English language.
Some of the most commonly spoken dialects of English include those from places like Australia, the US, UK, India, Kenya, Jamaica, and beyond. The dialect in those regions personalizes the delivery of the language by integrating specific cultural phrases and words into the language that are not distinguishable to outsiders. These dialects often vary within different areas of the regions to evolve into sub-dialects.
It is estimated by linguistic researchers that deviations in dialects are often observed after distances of 60 Kms. This indicates a major inclination in linguistics to adapt the delivery of the language to integrate local syntax and phrases.
Apart from the different dialects of english, do you know the differences between American and British English?
Let’s now look at the two places in the world where more English Dialects are spoken:
Dialects of English in the United States
With the United States, deviations between dialects exist on the basis of coasts and borders. There are longstanding reasons behind the differences with the core reason stemming from the cultural history of the settlements in the countries past. The colonies in the regions were occupied by people from Portugal, France, England, and Spain. This led to a major influence stemming from the linguistic delivery of those languages into the current dialects present in the region.
Other impacting factors in this context included the history of settlers that further moved into the regions. The linguistic delivery of those individuals remains an essential aspect of the current versions of the dialects present across different areas of the US.
East Coast within America was the first settled part with a long gap in-between the identity developed for other colonies. This led to the creation of dialects in the east compared to that of the west, which was settled homogenously. This is one of the major reasons behind the differences between the accents of people from Boston to South Carolina, whereas the differences are minimal between people on the West Coast.
Identity plays a strong role in language and divergence.
People want to talk like the ones from the same city, region, country, social class, political ideas, religion, or any other label they might use to identify themselves. And they’re a lot of those “little labels” that play a major role in the separation of identities.
Are you learning English? Do you know the importance of having a Growth Mindset?
How many different English Dialects are there in the United States?
Geographers and Social Scientists estimate there are 7 Main groups of Dialects in the United States: Western American English, North Central American English, Northern American English, Midland American English, Southern American English, New York City American English and Northern New England American English.
Of course, there are many more, as many as you can count. Each group has its own sub-dialects, and it all depends on where you place the thin dividing line between languages and dialects, as the difference of the two is politically related.
Dialects of English in England and Scotland
Old English gave the plethora of Scots languages spoken traditionally in Scotland, and the many unintelligible “dialects” of English. US English used to be much more diverse, too, but in both the UK and the US, a general trend of education- and sociology-enforced dialect leveling has been in effect for more than a century.
Variation is still high, though, especially in England and Scotland. This points towards a highly diverse future for dialects with the evolution process rapidly speeding up thanks to the exposure towards the internet and other mediums of entertainment and education.
The nature of the dialects present in the language and their constant state of evolution with regional influences points towards increased diversification in the range of dialects spoken around the world thanks to increased global exposure in new areas and regions that are connecting with digital resources to learn more about the world. These resources are an integral part of the learning experience of English with local influences combining to create a strong experience.
How many different English Dialects are there in England and Scotland?
English dialects in England can be categorized into 7 Major groups: Standard English (“the Queen’s English”), Northern, East Midlands, West Midlands, East Anglia, Southern, West Country and Highland English.
On the other hand, English Dialects in Scotland can be categorized into these 3 Major groups: Highland English, Lowland Scotish and Glaswegian.
Again, these groups contain a huge number of sub-dialects. In the latest studies carried out by language experts more than 40 different dialects were enumerated between England and Scotland. Check the image above to see them in the map.
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Thanks for sharing this amazing and helpful post!Great Information and awareness for people. This is good info. I really appreciate your research.
A detailed and informative article!
In addition, very interesting resources – accent map of the British Isles and worldwide accents of English can be found in this list: https://www.omniglot.com/links/english.htm And there is also a video on how different dialects sound. I’m definitely in love with the sound of British English, especially the Yorkshire dialect.
Unfortunately, my English doesn’t sound like that and immediately reveals me to be a non-native speaker.
Thanks for this. I grew up in the North East in Middlesbrough. The accents are quite heavy up there. I’ve been in Canada for nearly 40 years and people will still ask about my accent!
This is a very and amazing interesting article I enjoy it very much and I learned a huge amount of knowledge is like making a course in the university. Thank you
This article is confusing “ACCENT” with “DIALECT”.
Thanks for pointing out DW! We already fixed it.
I totally disgree with this article’s reference to American dialects. Actually, American English doesn’t have any dialects, except for Appalachian, although some may disagree and confuse accent with dialect. A few (and there are very few in American English) regional word differences do not make a “dialect”.
No reference to Aust./N.Z. English!
Your map of Great Britain divided in to just 43 dialects shows a complete misunderstanding of languages heard here.
It is vaguely true that there are many regional English language variations in GB, but you are ignoring the plethora of regional accents, regional words and regional phrases. Every County and Town makes its own contribution. Ditto the huge variety of metropolitan accents, words and phrases.
WE ALL NEED BACK-TRANSLATORS OF THESE ACCENTS, WORDS AND PHRASES, TO AVOID INSULTING OUR MULTI-VARIOUS POPULATION, AND TO LEARN MORE OF OUR COMMON EXPERIENCE.
Millions of people have come to live in the UK & Ireland over the centuries bringing with them many hundreds of geographical versions of the language, including many “accent, word and phrase imports” from world wide languages and dialects. Typically European examples and then Worldwide example since approx. 1500 AD.
All these have since then developed, melded or shrunk due to the history of shifting populations, wars & industrialisation etc.
ALL EXAMPLES SHOULD BE DATED AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, TO INFORM US ALL, GEOGRAPHICALLY, HISTORICALLY AND IN THE 21st CENTURY.
The export of the English versions around the world has subsequently proved chaotic, but equally fascinating. Just compare English from the Philippines with Australia, Canada, South America, the Indian regions, the Southern American States, the Indianna Purchase States, the Eastern Seaboard and all the other American areas.
The African continent alone shows enormous variations with many melds of accents, words and phrases. Compare the Congo, South Africa, Egypt, Botswana, the eastern and western countries, the mediterranean and southern countries, the desert countries, oceanic countries and landlocked countries.
A TRULY VAST PROJECT WHICH CAN ONLY BE COMMENCED/CONTINUED WITH THE AID OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY.
WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT TO INCLUDE RECORDED EXAMPLES OF SPEECH AND PRONUNCIATION FORM ALL PARTS?
There are so many examples of Chinese English and American English which I simply cannot understand at all!
But them I am hardly qualified in any of the variations.
Wow actually a huge post. I like this.I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him. Overall, Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!
Wow great content. It is great to have people devoted to this blog and giving good info for translators. Thanks
I’m an English Language and IELTS trainer. Students always ask me whether there is dialects in English language or not. If yes what are they. I answer yes but can’t give example. Through this article I found my answer. Thank you very much.live in Bangladesh. Bangla is my mother tongue. My students are also Bangladeshi. Our mother tongue has many dialects as well.
Thank you for your insight Kama! We are very pleased to know that you found the article useful. We will look into writing an article about Bangla in the future. Best regards.
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Good article thanks for your time