One of the vexed questions of linguistics is the difference between a variety, a dialect and a language, and exact definitions of each.
Today I had occasion to research the Lebanese city of Dbayeh. Google’s first result was English Wikipedia. It’s second was Scotch Wikipedia. Spot the difference.
Dbayeh is a city in Lebanon located on the Mediterranean Sea in the Matn District, Mount Lebanon, between Beirut and Jounieh. The majority of the population is Christian exluding some Gulf Arabs Muslims who reside in Dbayeh during the summer season.
The city became recently a hub for shopping and entertainment with its numerous shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas as well as a leisure port and a residential waterfront project.
Dbayeh refugee camp was established in 1952 for Christian refugees from Bassa and Kafr Berem.
Dbayeh, is a city located on the Mediterranean Sea in the Matn Destrict, Mount Lebanon Govrenorate, between Beirut the capital of Lebanon, and Jounieh (a touristic port), and the population (18,000) is christian exluding some Gulf Arabs Muslims who reside in Dbayeh during the summer (50 m – 12 km frae Beirut).
The “Dog River” cuts through Dbayeh, a small town that lees at the fuit o Munt Lebanon. The aurie surroondin the river is historically significant whaur invadin civilizations carvit their presence intae the rocks alang its banks. Dbayeh is no far frae Jounieh an is currently witnessin touristic an commercial development pairticularly alang its shoreline.
The city became recently a hub for shopping and entertainment with its numerous shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas as well as a leisure port.
So are these different varieties, dialects or languages? If they are different languages, then why can I understand everything, and what actually is the definition of a language? If they are varieties or dialects, what are they varieties or dialects of? Maybe we have to say that Scots and English are dialects of ENGLISH.
Not all examples of Scots are as close to English as this, as any brief browse around Scots Wikipedia shows. Also, both varieties/dialects/languages have a continuum from standard to umm … not standard. Both Wikipedias have pages for Scottish English/Scots Ingis, Scots language/Scots leid and Highland English/Hieland Inglis (as well as Scottish Gaelic/Scots Gaelic). Also also, formal written versions of languages are always are more standardised and stable than informal spoken version. Add historico-socio-economico-politics into the mix, and there’s no immediate or easy answer.
PS There may be an answer: most of Scots Wikipedia seems to have been created by an American teen who doesn’t speak the language.