Language and dialect in China

Norbert Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In the study of language learning, researchers sometimes ask how languages in contact are related. They compare the linguistic features of the languages, how the mental grammars of each language sub-system are represented, put to use in performance, and how they interact. Within a linguistic family, languages can be closely related or distantly related, an interesting factor, for example, in understanding bilingualism and second language development. Dialects, on the other hand, are considered to be variants of the same language. While there is no way to always draw a sharp line between the categories of language and dialect, it is necessary to distinguish between the two kinds of language variation by the application of uniform criteria. The distinction between dialect and language is important for designing bilingual instructional programs, both for students who already speak two languages and for beginning second language learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-149
Number of pages14
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Biliteracy
  • Chinese
  • Dialect
  • Language contact
  • Language policy
  • Minority languages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language


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