Language family: Languages with similarities in vocabulary, syntax, inflections, and other aspects are descendents of the same parent language. One example of this is the parent language of Latin. Through the Roman Empire’s period of colonizing in Europe, the Latin language spread into many countries, including Italy, France, and Spain. Over time, the Latin spoken in these countries, forming their own evolutions into the daughter languages of Italian, French, Spanish, and many more.
Dialects: Originally, a dialect was described as a low status form of a language, primarily spoken in rural areas and by people with relatively low education. They often contrasted unfavorably with the “standard” speech and writing styles of the main language. Today, the implication that dialects are inferior is not used, and dialects are used to describe any variation of a language. People, therefore, speak dialects of their language – nobody speaks it exactly the same.
Vernacular language: The type of language that is typically spoken by its users. It tends to include slang and is very informal compared to the written standard for a language. This goes hand in hand with dialects, as vernacular language usage has regional differences.
Standardized language: The official rules of a language. This is the type of language that you tend to learn in an educational setting. It includes the proper grammar and word usage that you would see written down rather than spoken. Standardized langauge typically doesn’t include any dialects of the language or slang.
Language death: When a language completely disappears as a means of communication. Written records or tape recordings may exist to be studied by scholars, or another language may adopt words or phrases from the original language, but it isn’t spoken widely in a region.
Languages in contact: Bilingualism derives from the contacts between languages and the relationships between groups of peoples of different cultures. These contacts have and continue to occur due to physical country borders, the trading of commodities (technology, food, materials, etc.), and exploration and exploitation of regions.
Proficiency: Having the skill and experience to do something.
Linguistics: The scientific study of the structure and development of language in general, or of specific languages.
Semantics: The study of meanings in a language.
Syntax: The grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence.
Lexicon: A list of all the words used in a particular language or subject.
Phonology: The underlying properties of sounds.
Phonetics: How the above sounds are pronounced during real-time speech.