Here are some real life examples (experienced daily as a native of Washington State displaced in North Carolina)"
- "I fell down a heel, in mah heels, and twisted my ankle and bruised mah heel." (Same word used for three different things.)
- My name is Claire. In the north, it is a one-syllable name. In the south, it is two: Clay-er.
- In the South it seems more acceptable to speak with numerous grammatical errors: "I'm-a get me some mee-lk (milk) even if she don't want some."
- In the north, married women are rarely referred to as "Miss." People take the time to say the entire "Missus Wait."
- On the other hand, in the north, there is not the same respect for what to call older people. Not many people use "ma'am" and "sir" and most adults insist on being called by first name rather than Mrs. or Mr.
- He don't and she don't as well as double negatives = used frequently in my small town.
- The weatherman used "gully-washer" on the news last night and I was probably the only person in my entire town to laugh and then ask what it meant.
- Ya'll vs. you guys (which is not offensive to say to a group of ladies in Washington, but often offends people here.)
- Carbonated beverages = pop (northwest); soda (midwest); coke (south)
- Night-time prank: "__________ a house" = teepeeing (northwest); wrapping (south); rolling (Texas)
My final point on accent/dialect might be better categorized as "culture" in general, but as it relates purely back to language, I'll say it. Sarcasm seems to be much more prevalent in the north. By Washington state's standards, I was considered mildly sarcastic (about average). When I went to college in Texas and since I've lived in North Carolina, I find my saracasm sets me apart from most. I've unintentionally shocked, appalled, confused and offended many many people as verbal irony simply isn't the cultural norm here that it is in the north (and possibly west).
Accent refers to the way in which people speak a language in terms of the way they pronounce different words and phrase. People with different regional, cultural and ethnic background generally have different way of speaking, which affects their accent even for a common language spoken by them. For example the accent of English spoken in Australia is quite different from that in USA or UK. As a matter of fact accent may change from place to place within a country also. The famous play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, is very much about such variation in accents that may exist between different localities within a city also.
Accent also refers to the emphasis the same person may place on different words and syllables while speaking. This changes the stress being put on different words in a sentence, and also alter the general feeling associated with what is being said. Like the same sentence may convey appreciation or a taunt depending on how it is spoken.
Dialect refers to basic variation in the a common language, which involves basic change in word, phrases, and their meanings, rather than just the way these are pronounced. Dialects develop because people who speak the language in different regions introduce innovations and errors in the language which over a period become part of common language spoken in a community. Dialects also develop because of evolution of language over time. Thus the language spoken in times of Shakespeare, which is the language used in his works, is very different from the English spoken today.
Dialects involve differences in pronunciation as well as vocabulary. The variation between two dialects may be minor, so that a person knowing one dialect is able to understand the other dialect fairly well. But dialect of same language can be quite different also, making it very difficult for person with knowledge of one dialect only to understand the other dialect.