6

According to StoneyB, a highly esteemed user on EL&U, almost a grammarian I would say,

English embraces a wide variety of dialects: the English written by financial planners differs greatly from the English written by crime novelists, and both differ even more greatly from the English written by commenters on YouTube music videos.

Do you think that it is the same for the Italian language?

If not, what conclusion you would get comparing English and Italian in this respect?

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    It is not too correct to speak about dialects in this regard, at least for Italian; it is better to speak about varietà. Some not unconnected useful pointers are given here: linguaggiodelweb.blogspot.it/2013/11/… , and in the links mentioned there. – DaG Nov 30 '13 at 18:08
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    Moreover, it is useful to read the articles about “Varietà” and “Linguaggi settoriali” in the Treccani Enciclopedia dell'italiano, either on paper or here: treccani.it/enciclopedia/… and here: treccani.it/enciclopedia/… . – DaG Nov 30 '13 at 18:11
10

The Oxford Dictionary of English I have on my machine says

dialect |ˈdʌɪəlɛkt|
noun
a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group: the Lancashire dialect seemed like a foreign language.

In the Italian dictionary I find

dialetto ‹dialètto›
s.m.
Sistema linguistico di ambito geografico limitato, appartenente a un gruppo di sistemi geneticamente affini (per es. i dialetti italiani nel loro complesso) e contrapposto a quella che storicamente si è imposta come lingua nazionale o di cultura: poesia in d.

Similarly the Treccani dictionary:

dialètto s. m. [dal lat. tardo dialectos, femm., gr. διάλεκτος «lingua», der. di διαλέγομαι «parlare, conversare»]. – Sistema linguistico di ambito geografico o culturale limitato, che non ha raggiunto o che ha perduto autonomia e prestigio di fronte a un altro sistema divenuto dominante e riconosciuto come ufficiale, col quale tuttavia, e con altri sistemi circostanti, forma un gruppo di idiomi molto affini per avere origine da una stessa lingua madre

So the English term “dialect” is not perfectly equivalent to “dialetto”. It's however true that also in Italian specialized fields use different linguistic registers, which is of course normal. When I talk about mathematics I use a different linguistic register than when talking about a soccer match.

Speaking in Italian of dialetto degli economisti o dialetto degli scrittori di polizieschi seems an arbitrary extension of meaning. One usually can talk about the linguaggio degli economisti, maybe saying economichese to underline the tendency to parlare difficile.

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    The word for a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific social group is gergo. – andcoz Nov 30 '13 at 19:03
  • @andcoz, sì, condivido, anche se 'gergo', forse, tende ad avere un'aurea negativa; sicchè parlerei di 'stile scientifico', per esempio, piuttosto che di 'gergo scientifico'. Anche se, ancora per esempio, preferisco 'gergo militare' piuttosto che 'stile militare'. – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 30 '13 at 21:45
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    @andcoz Gergo might mean using words with a different meaning than the usual; registro linguistico seems to me more appropriate to describe the phenomenon. – egreg Nov 30 '13 at 21:50
7

Oh Lord, it is. It's actually the same for any language I know of.

Note, that we are talking about one particular meaning of the word dialect: "a form of a language spoken by members of a particular social class or occupational group, distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation" (Collins dictionary). Hence, in Italian, dialect would be translated with two different words:

dialect n (language: local variation) dialetto nm
dialect n (specialized language, jargon) gergo nm

Partially, language of a particular social group is connected with jargon. It's impossible to imagine that financial planners in their annual reports would use the same words as the YouTube commentators or, on the contrary, that somebody would use financial terms for chatting in social networks.
But beside jargon (i.e., characteristic vocabulary of a special activity, occupational or social group), there are also the questions of specific style of writing, goals and tasks, audience, presentation of facts, ideas, and conclusions.

The commentators on YouTube (or any other social network) use mainly youth jargon, consisting of exclamations and often truncated words (compare: "u" instead of "you", "cmq" instead of "comunque").
The (crime) novelists have to imitate varieties of speech for each and every personage, depending on his/her social status, occupation, provenance, age, gender, etc. Just as a successful trader from Wall Street in a novel speaks differently from a waitress, a banker from Milan doesn't speak the same language as a waitress from Milan.
Yet another story is journalist language. It often seems to be "plain" and "simple," but it has to follow a lot of very specific style rules and is studied in details at various university programs.
Financial and/or legal language ought to be very precise, excessively precise. It's one of the reasons, why one needs a special education just to understand bank reports or juridical decisions, leaving apart writing them.
And, of course, scientific language is not similar to any of them. It has to be precise in terms of methodology, terms, and formulas, yet very careful in conclusions and formalities. Scientific language (be it English or Italian, in physics or medicine) is famous for excessive use of passive voice, citations, and long phrases that nobody is able to understand after the first reading.

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    To the contrary, good scientific language is clear; to witness, here's a paragraph from a well known scientific work: “A questo fine ho presa nel discorso la parte Copernicana, procedendo in pura ipotesi matematica, cercando per ogni strada artifiziosa di rappresentarla superiore, non a quella della fermezza della Terra assolutamente, ma secondo che si difende da alcuni che, di professione Peripatetici, ne ritengono solo il nome, contenti, senza passeggio, di adorar l'ombre, non filosofando con l'avvertenza propria, ma con solo la memoria di quattro principî mal intesi.” – egreg Nov 30 '13 at 20:25
  • @egreg Just like you, I'm a lecturer at university. For the 12 years I've been reading and reviewing papers and books in economics, econometrics, and political science, just about 20% of them happened to have good and clear scientific language. :) – I.M. Nov 30 '13 at 21:17
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    I said good scientific language. Bad writing is everywhere, unfortunately. – egreg Nov 30 '13 at 21:23
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    @egreg Yes, that's what I mean, too. I guess, the situation in mathematics is way better, since mathematical proofs and formulas are more clear and easier to follow than some "water-filled" pseudo-sophisticated theories and conclusions. – I.M. Dec 1 '13 at 9:02
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    @Kyriakos It's just two meanings of the word dialect in English: language of a particular place (in geographic sense) and language of a particular group (in social sense). As many said above, in Italian those meanings are held with different words: dialetto, gergo, and linguaggio. – I.M. Dec 1 '13 at 9:19
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People in different professions appear to use the same words with different frequencies. That appears to be true in English, and probably in Italian.

It's seldom that a medical worker will use a word commonly used by a financial professional (or vice versa). But on the rare occasions when someone is "visiting" another field, the "visitor" will use (or try to use) the same words in the same way.

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