DIALECT (from Gr., conversation, manner of speaking, , to converse), a particular or characteristic manner of speech, and hence any variety of a language. In its widest sense languages which are branches of a common or parent language may be said to be "dialects" of that language; thus Attic, Ionic, Aeolic and Doric are dialects of Greek, though there may never have at any time been a separate language of which they were variations; so the various Romance languages, Italian, French, Spanish, etc., were dialects of Latin. Again, where there have existed side by side, as in England, various branches of a language, such as the languages of the Angles, the Jutes or the Saxons, and the descendant of one particular language, from many causes, has obtained the predominance, the traces of the other languages remain in the "dialects" of the districts where once the original language prevailed. Thus it may be incorrect, from the historical point of view, to say that "dialect" varieties of a language represent degradations of the standard language. A "literary" accepted language, such as modern English, represents the original language spoken in the Midlands, with accretions of Norman, French, and later literary and scientific additions from classical and other sources, while the present-day "dialects" preserve, in inflections, pronunciation and particular words, traces of the original variety of the language not incorporated in the standard language of the country. See the various articles on languages (English, French, etc).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)