According to Hudson, a variety is ‘a set of linguistic items with similar social distribution’ . Since the term dialect has acquired a negative connotation throughout the years, academics have started to use the term variety, which is considered more neutral, instead.
Therefore, we should start considering the statement according to which ‘A speaker of English is necessarily a speaker of some dialect of English’ . As far as the dialect is concerned, this term refers to ‘varieties distinguished from each other by differences of grammar and vocabulary’ . Despite the fact that the previous explanation can sound complete to the majority, the word dialect has had several definitions throughout the years. For example, in the Anglo-Saxon world, it is used for referring to ‘any variety of language that can be delimited linguistically or socially’ . According to another point of view, ‘a dialect is a subset of a language, usually with a geographical restriction on its distribution’ . In Trudgill’s view, as far as the dialect is concerned, another distinction between traditional dialects and mainstream dialects needs to be made. On one hand, the first ones are spoken by the minority of English language speakers and they are located in the most peripheral and rural areas. On the other hand, mainstream dialects include both Standard English dialect and Modern non–standard dialects and they are associated with the urban areas, the youth culture and the so-called middle and upper–class. Wells uses different terms in order to refer to the two dialect categories previously mentioned. Actually, the term Traditional Dialect holds steady, whereas Mainstream Dialect, in Wells’ meaning, becomes General English. Furthermore, Wells notices that the differences between these two types of dialect are mainly phonological. Indeed, they are determined by a lexical incidence of specific phonemes in particular words .
Having made the right introductory remarks, we should now define what Standard English and non-standard dialects are.
Paraphrasing the linguist Peter Trudgill, by Standard language we mean ‘a language one of whose varieties has undergone standardisation’ . According to this definition, the standardisation is a process of determination, codification and stabilisation of the language. By determination, we refer to ‘decisions which have to be taken concerning the selection of particular languages or varieties of language for particular purposes in the society or nation in question’ . As far as the term codification is concerned, it signifies a process through which a variety obtains a fixed and socially accepted form. Eventually, Trudgill identifies with the expression stabilisation a process of variety diffusion in a more fixed and stable form, dominating the others .
In this view, if we relate ourselves to the English context, we refer to Standard English and it is defined as
That variety of English which is usually used in print, and which is normally...