Different Dialects Behave Like Bubbles In A Bath
Dialects and languages as a whole seem to form the same way as bubbles do in a bath. They present the same laws of physics as bubbles do. A new research from the University of Portsmouth has brought to light some of the links between the physics of bubbles and how and why dialects appear and form.
“If you want to know where you’ll find dialects and why a lot can be predicted from the physics of bubbles and our tendency to copy others around us,” says Dr James Burridge from the University of Portsmouth.
In other words, humans are social creatures that like to fit in with others. And because of this, we strive to be as similar as possible to our neighbours. The easiest way to do this is to strive and copy the way they speak. Since people generally like to stay put geographically, this creates areas where one certain form o speech is created – which is a dialect.
Similarly, a foamy bath starts off in the exact same way. In the beginning, there are thousands of tiny little bubbles all over the place. But over time the bubbles that touch and interact with each other merge to form a bigger one.
“Where dialect regions meet, you get surface tension. Surface tension causes oil and water to separate out into layers, and also causes small bubbles in a bubble bath to merge into bigger ones,” Dr Burridge adds.
“The bubbles in the bath are like groups of people — they merge into the bigger bubbles because they want to fit in with their neighbours.”
As time goes on, dialects like bubbles, come in contact with others and begin to merge, leading to a single dialect imposing itself over all the others.
Dialects usually have a large urban centre at its core, such as a large city.
“My model shows that dialects tend to move outwards from population centres, which explains why cities have their own dialects. Big cities like London and Birmingham are pushing on the walls of their own bubbles. This is why many dialects have a big city at their heart — the bigger the city, the greater this effect, he concludes.”
“If people live near a town or city, we assume they experience more frequent interactions with people from the city than with those living outside it, simply because there are more city dwellers to interact with.”