Accent vs Dialect – Difference and Comparison

What is Accent?

The same language spoken by two people from two geographical regions may sound different. It is because of their respective accents. Accents refer to the style of speaking.

In basic terms, it is the pronunciation of a word. People grow to speak with a particular accent due to their geographical, cultural, and social backgrounds. The word accent has originated from the Latin word Accentus. It means “the intonation of singing.”

It is easy to change one’s accent. As a result, one person can speak in more than two accents. It entirely depends on the person’s choice. Repeated hearing of a language also leads to picking up the accent. Therefore, if one’s relative lives abroad, one may notice the change in the way they speak.

Different languages may use different accents. So, if a person tries to learn a new language, it is influenced by their mother tongue.

With different accents, there are stereotyped opinions. For example, in English, the US accent has become widespread. Therefore, any other accent like French or Swedish supposedly diverts from the standard norms.

What is Dialect?

Dialect is a part of a language that is novel to a particular geographical region. It has a broad scope that includes components like pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, etc. Therefore, the accent is a part of a dialect. Within the dialect, there may be different accents.

Dialects have formed due to varieties in geographical regions. But there may be variances within them as well. For example, different dialects are in use in the northern and southern parts of the United States.

They may have the same meaning, but the usage of the words differs. For example, while referring to a beverage, some dialects may call it coke, while others call it soda or pop.

Dialects can be of two types, standard dialect or the non-standard dialect. A standard dialect has repeated use or a formal approach. The non-standard dialect has more of an informal usage.

A dialect can be further classified into two types, a sociolect, and an ethnolect. A dialect based on social class is referred to as a sociolect. On the other hand, a dialect based on the ethnicity of a society is referred to as an ethnolect.

In some cases, a dialect is related to a low social class. The sociolect of the upper class is the accepted dialect. Hence, the language of the lower classes is considered unrefined. It creates the base for social discrimination.

Difference Between Accent and Dialect

  1. An accent is related to phonetics, whereas a dialect is related to phonetics, vocabulary, grammar, syntax, etc.
  2. The variations occur in the pronunciation of a person in an accent. On the other hand, variations occur in pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary, and grammar in the case of a dialect.
  3. In linguistics, an accent is a part of a dialect. And a dialect is a part of a language. Both of these are widely used in the study of languages.
  4. The changes in accent may occur with geographical regions, social background, and even socioeconomic status. Whereas, changes in a dialect occur due to the geographical region.
  5. An accent may not have a standardized form, unlike a dialect. A dialect however has a standard and a non-standard aspect.
  6. A person may use more than one accent. On the other hand, a person uses one dialect.
  7. It is difficult to change dialects while speaking. Whereas, an accent can be changed although it is not desirable.

Comparison Between Accent and Dialect

Parameters of ComparisonAccentDialect
MeaningIt refers to the style with which people speak.It refers to the content of a person’s vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
VariationsIt varies in pronunciation.It varies in phonetics, syntax, and grammar.
ScopeIt has a narrow scope.It has a wider scope.
ComponentsPronunciation.Pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, syntax.
OrderIt is a part of dialect.It is a part of the language.
AssociationIt is associated with geographical location and social background.It is associated with only geographical location.