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One language, many varieties

Even if we only speak one language, we speak many languages. For no language is a self-contained system. Every language shows many different dimensions. Language is a living system. Speakers always orient themselves towards their conversation partners. Therefore, people vary the language they speak. These varieties appear in various forms. For example, every language has a history. It has changed and will continue to change. This can be recognized in the fact that old people speak differently than young people. There are also various dialects in most languages. However, many dialect speakers can adapt to their environment. In certain situations they speak the standard language. Different social groups have different languages. Youth language or hunter's jargon are examples of this. Most people speak differently at work than they do at home. Many also use a professional jargon at work. Differences also appear in spoken and written language. Spoken language is typically much simpler than written. The difference can be quite large. This is the case when written languages don't change for a long time. Speakers then must learn to use the language in written form first. The language of women and men is often different as well. This difference isn't that great in western societies. But there are countries in which women speak much more differently than men. In some cultures, politeness has its own linguistic form. Speaking is therefore not at all so easy! We have to pay attention to many different things at the same time…

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