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  • You already know that the word "language" refers to our ability to communicate with

  • speech. But we saw that what exactly that ability is, turned out to be quite a quagmire.

  • So now let's turn to the other thing we mean by "language" - you know, the specific languages

  • we speak with their own words, their own grammar and their own pronunciation.

  • I mean, English is a language, right? And this is English! But so is this.

  • And back in time, this was English. Even further back, but we call this English, too.

  • Wait, I get it. This is Old English, and this one is Middle English, and this is Modern English.

  • So are these three languages or three different stages of the same language?

  • But I know, history's always messier than we want it to be. So let's just stick to the

  • present. Here are some basic words in English. And these are the same words in a totally

  • different dialect of English. They're two dialects because, if the same language gets

  • spoken in different ways by different groups of people, we call those different dialects.

  • Moving on, let's translate those words into Norwegian (the Norwegian language). And here's how we would write

  • those same words in Swedish (the Swedish language). So, Swedish and Norwegian are different languages,

  • but British and Scottish are different dialects of the same language?

  • Where's the line between a dialect and a language anyway? Is it just arbitrary or conventional?

  • Maybe in the end it really is buttoned up by a phrase Max Weinreich passed along. During a lecture

  • series he gave in the 1940s, a member of his audience made the witty remark, "a language is a dialect

  • with an army and a navy." If that's so, it's about politics and power just as much as it's

  • about grammar.

  • Language vs. languages, languages vs. dialects... oh, what a mess I've dragged you into! And

  • with that, I welcome you to my YouTube channel. Subscribe if you want to learn more, because

  • from the looks of it we've seriously got some stuff to sort out together.

You already know that the word "language" refers to our ability to communicate with

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