Diglossia

Diglossia

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In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, diglossia (icon; Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: διγλωσσία < δύο+γλώσσα, two languages) refers to a situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community. In addition to the community's everyday or vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 language variety (labeled "L" or "low" variety), a second, highly codified variety (labeled "H" or "high") is used in certain situations such as literature, formal education, or other specific settings, but not used for ordinary conversation.

The high variety may be an older stage of the same language (e.g. Latin in the early Middle Ages), or a distinct yet closely related present day dialect (e.g. Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 with Bokmål
Bokmål
Bokmål is one of two official Norwegian written standard languages, the other being Nynorsk. Bokmål is used by 85–90% of the population in Norway, and is the standard most commonly taught to foreign students of the Norwegian language....

 and Nynorsk
Nynorsk
Nynorsk or New Norwegian is one of two official written standards for the Norwegian language, the other being Bokmål. The standard language was created by Ivar Aasen during the mid-19th century, to provide a Norwegian alternative to the Danish language which was commonly written in Norway at the...

, or Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 with Mandarin
Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese, or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

 as the official, literary standard and colloquial topolects/dialects used in everyday communication). If languages of equal standing within a community are increasingly mixed (such as in English and Maltese in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

) this phenomenon is called convergence
Language convergence
Language convergence is a type of contact-induced change whereby languages with many bilingual speakers mutually borrow morphological and syntactic features, making their typology more similar....

.. Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 language is a diglossic language because it has two variations for spoken and written.

Sociolinguistics


As an aspect of study of the relationships between codes and social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

, diglossia is an important concept in the field of sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

. At the social level, each of the two dialects has certain spheres of social interaction assigned to it and in the assigned spheres it is the only socially acceptable dialect (with minor exceptions). At the grammatical level, differences may involve pronunciation, inflection
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

, and/or syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 (sentence structure). Differences can range from minor (although conspicuous) to extreme. In many cases of diglossia, the two dialects are so divergent that they are distinct languages as defined by linguists
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

: they are not mutually intelligible.

The dialect which is the original mother tongue is almost always held in low esteem; it is of low prestige
Prestige dialect
In sociolinguistics, prestige describes the level of respect accorded to a language or dialect as compared to that of other languages or dialects in a speech community. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics is closely related to that of prestige or class within a society...

. Its spheres of use involve informal, interpersonal communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

: conversation in the home, among friends, in marketplaces. In some diglossias, this vernacular dialect is virtually unwritten. Those who try to give it a literature may be severely criticized or even persecuted. The other dialect is held in high esteem and is devoted to written communication and formal spoken communication, such as university instruction, primary education, sermons, and speeches by government officials. It is usually not possible to acquire proficiency in the formal, "high" dialect without formal study of it. Thus in those diglossic societies which are also characterized by extreme inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

 of social classes, most people are not proficient in speaking the high dialect, and if the high dialect is grammatically different enough, as in the case of Arabic diglossia, then these uneducated classes cannot understand most of the public speeches they might hear on television and radio. The high prestige dialect (or language) tends to be the more formalised, and its forms and vocabulary often 'filter down' into the vernacular, though often in a changed form.

In many diglossic areas there is controversy and polarization
Attitude polarization
Attitude polarization, also known as belief polarization, is a phenomenon in which a disagreement becomes more extreme as the different parties consider evidence on the issue. It is one of the effects of confirmation bias: the tendency of people to search for and interpret evidence selectively, to...

 of opinions of native speakers regarding the relationship between the two dialects and their respective status
Status
Status , is a state, condition, or situation.Status may also refer to:* Social status, in sociology** Achieved status** Ascribed status** Master status** Political status** Socioeconomic status** Sociometric status...

es. In cases where the "high" dialect is objectively not intelligible to those exposed only to the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

, some people insist that the two dialects are nevertheless a common language. The pioneering scholar of diglossia, Charles A. Ferguson
Charles A. Ferguson
Charles Albert Ferguson was a U.S. linguist who taught at Stanford University. He was one the founders of sociolinguistics and is best known for his work on diglossia. The TOEFL test was created under his leadership at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC...

, observed that native speakers proficient in the high prestige dialect will commonly try to avoid using the vernacular dialect with foreigners and may even deny its existence, even though the vernacular is the only socially appropriate one for them themselves to use when speaking to their relatives and friends. Yet another common attitude is that the low dialect—which is everyone's native language—ought to be abandoned in favor of the high dialect, which presently is nobody's native language.

Etymology


The Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word διγλωσσία (diglōssia) normally refers to bilingualism in general, but was first used in the specialized meaning explained above by Emmanuel Rhoides
Emmanuel Rhoides
Emmanuel Rhoides was a Greek writer and journalist. He is considered one of the most illustrious and reviving spirits of the Greek letters of his time.Born in Hermoupolis, the capital of the island of Syros, to a family of rich aristocrats...

 in the prologue of his Parerga in 1885. The term was immediately adapted into French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 as diglossie by the Greek linguist and demoticist
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

 Ioannis Psycharis
Ioannis Psycharis
Ioannis Psycharis was a French philologist of Greek origin, author and promoter of Demotic Greek.- Biography :...

, with credit to Rhoides. The Arabist
Arabist
This is an article about the western scholars known as Arabists, not the political movement Pan-Arabism.An Arabist is someone normally from outside the Arab World who specialises in the study of the Arabic language and Arab culture, and often Arabic literature.-Origins:Arabists began in medieval...

 William Marçais used the term in 1930 to describe the linguistic situation in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

-speaking countries. The sociolinguist Charles A. Ferguson introduced the English equivalent diglossia in 1959.

Language registers and types of diglossia


In Charles A. Ferguson
Charles A. Ferguson
Charles Albert Ferguson was a U.S. linguist who taught at Stanford University. He was one the founders of sociolinguistics and is best known for his work on diglossia. The TOEFL test was created under his leadership at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC...

's article "Diglossia" in the journal Word
WORD (journal)
WORD is a linguistics academic journal published three times a year by the International Linguistic Association....

, diglossia was described as a kind of bilingualism in a society in which one of the languages is (H), i.e. has high prestige, and another of the languages is (L), i.e. has low prestige. In Ferguson's definition, (H) and (L) are always closely related. Joshua Fishman
Joshua Fishman
Joshua Aaron Fishman, is an American linguist who specializes in the sociology of language, language planning, bilingual education, and language and ethnicity.-Life:...

 expanded the definition of diglossia to include the use of unrelated languages as high and low varieties. For example, in Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 the Alsatian language
Alsatian language
Alsatian is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a region in eastern France which has passed between French and German control many times.-Language family:...

 (Elsässisch) serves as (L) and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 as (H). Heinz Kloss
Heinz Kloss
Heinz Kloss was a German linguist and internationally recognised authority on linguistic minorities....

 calls the (H) variant exoglossia and the (L) variant endoglossia.

In some cases (especially with creole languages), the nature of the connection between (H) and (L) is not one of diglossia but a continuum
Post-creole speech continuum
The Post-creole continuum or simply creole continuum refers to a situation wherein a creole language consists of a spectrum of varieties between those most and least similar to the superstrate language...

; for example, Jamaican Creole
Jamaican Creole
Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois or Jamaican, and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an English-lexified creole language with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora. It is not to be confused with Jamaican English nor with the Rastafarian use of...

 as (L) and Standard English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as (H) in Jamaica.

(H) is usually the written language whereas (L) is the spoken language. In formal situations, (H) is used; in informal situations, (L) is used. One of the earliest known examples is Latin, Classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 being the (H) and Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 the (L). The latter, which is almost completely unattested in text, is the tongue from which the Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 descended.

The (L) variants are not just simplifications or "corruptions" of the (H) variants. In phonology, for example, (L) dialects are as likely to have phonemes absent from the (H) as vice versa. Some Swiss German dialects have three phonemes, /e/, /ɛ/ and /æ/, in the phonetic space where Standard German has only two phonemes, /ɛ(ː)/ (Berlin 'Berlin', Bären 'bears') and /eː/ (Beeren 'berries'). Jamaican Creole has fewer vowel phonemes than standard English, but it has additional palatal /kʲ/ and /ɡʲ/ phonemes.

Especially in endoglossia the (L) form may also be called "basilect", the (H) form "acrolect", and an intermediate form "mesolect".

Ferguson's classic examples include Standard German/Swiss German
Swiss German
Swiss German is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in Switzerland and in some Alpine communities in Northern Italy. Occasionally, the Alemannic dialects spoken in other countries are grouped together with Swiss German as well, especially the dialects of Liechtenstein and Austrian Vorarlberg...

, Standard Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

/vernacular Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

, Standard French/Creole
Creole
- Languages :A Creole language is a stable, full-fledged language that originated from a pidgin or combination of other languages.Creole languages subgroups may include:* Arabic-based creole languages* Dutch-based creole languages...

 in Haiti, and Katharevousa
Katharevousa
Katharevousa , is a form of the Greek language conceived in the early 19th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Modern Greek of the time, with a vocabulary largely based on ancient forms, but a much-simplified grammar. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official...

/Dhimotiki
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

 in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Creole is now recognized as a standard language in Haiti. Swiss German dialects are hardly languages with low prestige in Switzerland (see Chambers, Sociolinguistic Theory). And after the end of the military regime
Greek military junta of 1967-1974
The Greek military junta of 1967–1974, alternatively "The Regime of the Colonels" , or in Greece "The Junta", and "The Seven Years" are terms used to refer to a series of right-wing military governments that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974...

 in 1974, Dhimotiki was made into Greece's only standard language (1976). Nowadays, Katharevousa is (with a few exceptions, e. g. by the Greek Orthodox Church) no longer used. Harold Schiffman writes about Swiss German: "it seems to be the case that Swiss German was once consensually agreed to be in a diglossic hierarchy with Standard German, but that this consensus is now breaking." There is also a lot of code-switching
Code-switching
In linguistics, code-switching is the concurrent use of more than one language, or language variety, in conversation. Multilinguals—people who speak more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other...

 especially in the Arabic world; according to Andrew Freeman this is "different from Ferguson's description of diglossia which states that the two forms are in complementary distribution." To a certain extent, there is code switching and overlap in all diglossic societies, even German-speaking Switzerland.

Examples where the High/Low dichotomy is justified in terms of social prestige include Italian dialects
Italian dialects
Dialects of Italian are regional varieties of the Italian language, more commonly and more accurately referred to as Regional Italian. The dialects have features, most notably phonological and lexical, percolating from the underlying substrate languages...

 as (L) and Standard Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 as (H) in Italy and German dialects and standard German in Germany. In Italy and Germany, those speakers who still speak dialects typically use dialect in informal situations, especially in the family. In German-speaking Switzerland, on the other hand, Swiss German dialects are to a certain extent even used in schools and to a larger extent in churches. Ramseier calls German-speaking Switzerland's diglossia a "medial diglossia", whereas Felicity Rash prefers "functional diglossia". Paradoxically, Swiss German offers both the best example of diglossia (all speakers are native speakers of Swiss German and thus diglossic) and the worst, because there is no clear-cut hierarchy.

See also

  • List of diglossic regions
  • Ausbausprache - Abstandsprache - Dachsprache
    Ausbausprache - Abstandsprache - Dachsprache
    The Ausbausprache – Abstandsprache – Dachsprache framework is a tool developed by sociolinguists for analysing and categorising the status of language varieties along the cline between autonomous languages on the one hand and dialects on the other. The terms were coined by Heinz Kloss...

  • Bilingualism
  • Dialect continuum
    Dialect continuum
    A dialect continuum, or dialect area, was defined by Leonard Bloomfield as a range of dialects spoken across some geographical area that differ only slightly between neighboring areas, but as one travels in any direction, these differences accumulate such that speakers from opposite ends of the...

  • Digraphia
    Digraphia
    In sociolinguistics, digraphia refers to the use of more than one writing system for the same language. Some scholars differentiate between synchronic digraphia with the coexistence of two or more writing systems for the same language and diachronic digraphia with the replacement of one writing...

  • Pluricentric language
    Pluricentric language
    A pluricentric language is a language with several standard versions, both in spoken and in written forms. This situation usually arises when language and the national identity of its native speakers do not, or did not, coincide.-English:...

  • Register (linguistics)
    Register (linguistics)
    In linguistics, a register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting. For example, when speaking in a formal setting an English speaker may be more likely to adhere more closely to prescribed grammar, pronounce words ending in -ing with a velar nasal...

  • Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

  • Standard language
    Standard language
    A standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works...

  • Linguistic insecurity
    Linguistic insecurity
    Linguistic insecurity refers to feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness, or lack of confidence in the mind of a speaker surrounding the use of their own language. Often, this anxiety comes from a speaker’s belief that his/her use of language does not conform to the perceived standard and/or the...


Further reading


External links