3

Just some background for my question.

In China they have a lot of dialects, with Mandarin as the unifying language (it was based on the Beijing dialect) in 1911. Some of these Chinese have migrated overseas within the last 100-200 years ago or even longer.

I was just thinking of a word to describe a language used by only a particular group of people who share the same ancestral dialect (in a foreign country), as in the sentence:

"There's no point in learning such a/an _______ language".

This adjective is to say that the language is not used by many people and only limited to this specific group. By the way, these dialects are not dying languages (or dialects - I like to think of them as languages)

Is exclusive the right word here? If so, are there any other words that can be used in this context?

  • To capture the “residing outside of their native country” notion I think you’re going to need “transplanted” somewhere, but it wouldn’t explain why “there’s no point in learning [it].” (in fact, nothing anyone could say would convince me that learning any particular language is pointless: that’s just the poor mono-linguists’ mantra) – Papa Poule Jun 5 '16 at 16:45
  • My point is that there're very few people speaking this dialect in the country I'm currently (not in China). Even in China not that many people speak this particular variety of this dialect. Thus, it is not very useful and I'm trying to come up with the adjective to describe the language being exclusive to a small group of people in the country. "Transplanted" isn't the word I'm looking for. – Christopher Wong Jun 7 '16 at 1:59
  • I looked at the definition for "Yiddish" in several dictionaries and there did not seem to be a common term used to describe this class of language. – Hot Licks Jul 30 '16 at 11:55
1

One might refer to the language as rare, in the sense of spoken by only a small group or groups of people.


If an ancient language is spoken principally by people from a relatively small geographical region, it is sometimes referred to as indigenous. An indigenous language might nonetheless be spoken widely throughout that region.


You could arguably refer to the language as vestigial, although this suggests that the language is dying out or is no longer significant--something the remaining speakers and others such as yourself might take issue with.


From http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/learner/vestigial

Remaining as the last small part of something that used to exist

  • "vestigial traces of an earlier culture"
  • "It is often possible to see the vestigial remains of rear limbs on some snakes."
0

Try argot(noun)

MW

language used by a particular group of people

For an adjective, try vernacular

MW

of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place,region, or country 

Also look up jargon and patois.

  • While the MW dictionary definitions fit, I don't think most of these words actually work for the OP's purpose; patois does, but jargon and argot don't. – Peter Shor Jun 5 '16 at 12:51
  • @PeterShor Well, in a way, those people are a kind of group. – vickyace Jun 5 '16 at 13:26
  • As I mentioned to Papa Poule, my point is that there're few people speaking this dialect in the country I'm currently in (not in China). Even in China not that many people speak this particular variety of this dialect. Thus, it is not very useful and I'm trying to come up with the adjective to describe the language being exclusive to a small group of people in the country I'm in right now. As @Peter Shor mentioned, jargon and argot are not the right words in this case. Even the word patois doesn't apply because each dialect is not actually lower in status than Mandarin. – Christopher Wong Jun 7 '16 at 2:15
  • @vickyace. Vernacular doesn't work too by the way. Because I'm trying to describe the fact that the language is specific to only a small group of people in a country. Do you reckon exclusive would do? – Christopher Wong Jun 7 '16 at 2:18

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