“Rungway! Rungway!" yelled a man at a person driving down the street. If the tourist had been native to the area, he would have understood “Wrong way!” and realized he was driving the wrong way down a one way street. The first person was speaking a dialect unfamiliar to a visitor.
Not all people speak the same language the same way. Every language has dialects, also accents and idiolects, which are divided by social groups (Valley Girl and Ebonics), class and geographic regions. There are almost no grammatical differences region to region but word pronunciation is frequently markedly different and some words are replaced. A good example: soda versus pop for carbonated soft drinks. Vocabulary is the most fluid aspect of dialects and grammar the least.
Within some dialects, subdialects emerge but usually do not become permanent. Young people parrot the speech of popular singers who in turn are influenced by Southern white or black speech patterns. Youngsters frequently weaken vowels before an “L”: sale = sell, really = rilly, and feel = fill. They also like creating their own dialects to talk more secretly and to define social status among themselves. By the time these words come into general usage, the young people have dropped them and gone on to other words. Today’s rapid development of communications technology will probably slow down the evolution of dialects and languages. For the first time in history, a dialect called Network Standard is being used all across the country without regard to the usual stratifications of speech. Class distinction, race and poverty will slow down this trend but more and more people will be added to the users as they grow up in a computer dominated world. As a sidelight, many children are not being taught cursive writing because teachers say they all will be using personal communication devices and never need to put their thoughts on paper via a pencil or pen.
Try asking someone what those sandwiches with many layers between thick slices of buns are called. In Philadelphia they are hoagies; NY heroes; New Orleans po’ boys; Pittsburgh submarines; Miami Cuban sandwiches; and strangely enough in Wisconsin Garibaldis. A heavy rainstorm is called a dam-buster in AL, hay-rotter in VA, leak-finder in WI, million dollar rain in MS, tree-bender in Maine, ditch-worker in IL, sewer-clogger in MI, mud-sender in CA, and gully washer in 3 dozen other states. Other more localized names are goose-drowners, toad stranglers and duck drenchers. Most of us say “turn off the lights” but in the South is it “cut off the lights” and in the Northeast “shut off the lights”. Floridians “mash” button while the rest of us “push” them to open an elevator door or start the washing machine.