Coexistence of two varieties of the same language in a speech community, with each variety being more or less standardized and occupying a distinct sociolinguistic niche. Typically, one variety is more formal or prestigious while the other is more suited to informal conversation or is taken as a mark of lower social status or less education. Classic diglossic situations can be found in Arabic-speaking communities, where Modern Standard Arabic coexists with dozens of regional Arabic dialects, and among speakers of Dravidian languages such as Tamil, where different words for basic concepts such as “house” or “water” are chosen depending on the speaker's caste or religion.
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The French term diglossie was first coined (basically a transliteration of Greek διγλωσσία (diglōssia), 'bilingualism') by the Greek linguist and demoticist Ioannis Psycharis. The Arabist William Marçais used the term in 1930 to describe the linguistic situation in Arabic-speaking countries.
In Charles A. Ferguson's article "Diglossia" in the journal Word (1959), diglossia was described as a kind of bilingualism in a given 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 also talks about diglossia with unrelated languages as "extended diglossia" (Fishman 1967), for example Sanskrit as (H) and Kannada as (L) or Alsatian (Elsässisch) in Alsace as (L) and French as (H). Kloss 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; for example, Jamaican Creole as (L) and Standard English 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, having diglossia Classical Latin (H) and Vulgar Latin (L). The latter is the tongue from which the Romance languages descended, and is almost completely unattested in text.
The (L) variants are not just simplifications or "corruptions" of the (H) variants. Many (L) languages have certain features that are more complex than the corresponding (H) languages: some Swiss German dialects have /e/, /ɛ/ and /æ/ while Standard German only has /ɛ(ː)/ (Berlin 'Berlin', Bären 'bears') and /eː/ (Beeren 'berries'). Jamaican Creole has fewer vowel phonemes than standard Englishes, 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". Note however that there is no "mesolect" in German-speaking Switzerland and in Luxembourg. Whether Paraguay has a form of diglossia is controversial. Guaraní and Spanish are both official languages of Paraguay. Some scholars argue that there are Paraguayans who actually don't speak Guaraní. The Chinese language also offers an interesting case.
Ferguson's classic examples include Standard German/Swiss German, Standard Arabic/vernacular Arabic, Standard French/Kréyòl in Haiti, Katharevousa/Dhimotiki in Greece, and Bokmål/Nynorsk in Norway. However, Kréyòl is now recognised as a standard language in Haiti. Swiss German dialects are hardly languages with low prestige in Switzerland; and colloquial Arabic has more prestige in some respects than standard Arabic nowadays (see Chambers, Sociolinguistic Theory). And after the end of the military regime in 1974, Dhimotiki was made into Greece's only standard language (1976). Nowadays, Katharevousa is (with 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 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 as (L) and Standard Italian 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 for diglossia (all speakers are native speakers of Swiss German and thus diglossic) and the worst, because there is no clear-cut hierarchy.
Prior to the Norman invasion of 1066, Old English in its various dialects was spoken in England. For some centuries following the conquest, England had diglossia between a French-speaking ruling class and commoners who spoke English. As French gradually waned, English changed and took over until Modern English was created through the merger of this divide. However, there is still evidence of a division, between "academic" words and "common" words. Many "power" words (such as bailiff) are "academic".
Abdullah Thalji 2007-2008
The situation with the Literary Arabic (الفصحى al-fuṣ-ḥā) vs spoken varieties of Arabic (العامية al-`āmmiyya or الدارجة ad-dārija) differs from country to country but every Arab country's official language is "standard Arabic". There is no consensus on which version of Arabic should be taught to foreigners. Many scholars suggest both MSA and at least one dialect should be studied.
The debate continues about the future of the Arabic language, both among Arabic linguists in the Arab world and outside it. Some prefer the status quo (existing diglossia). The other suggestions are:
Both ideas (the Hebrew (1) or the Greek (2) language reforms) have become feasible with the globalisation and the increase of the internet and mass-media usage among Arabs but there must be consensus between governments, scholars and the population and the efforts to follow. The Al-Jazeera television and others did a lot to promote standard Arabic among Arabs.
In Brunei, Standard Malay (Bahasa Melayu) is promoted as the national language and is the H variety, while Brunei Malay is used very widely throughout society and it constitutes the L variety. One major difference between these dialects of Malay is that Brunei Malay tends to have the verb at the front, while Standard Malay generally places it after the subject. It has been estimated that 84% of lexical items in Brunei Malay and Standard Malay are cognates, though their pronunciation often differs very considerably. While Standard Malay has six vowels, Brunei Malay only has three: /a, i, u/.
One complicating factor is that English is also widely used in Brunei, especially in education, as it is the medium of instruction from upper primary school onwards, so it shares the H role with Standard Malay. Another code that competes for the H role in some situations is the special palace language, which includes an elaborate system of honorific terms for addressing and referring to the Sultan and other nobles. Finally, although Standard Malay is used for sermons in the mosques (as expected for the H variety), readings from the Qur'an are in Arabic.
With the exception of Andorra, Catalan as spoken outside of Catalonia may be diglossic in various grades, from highly to barely diglossic. Diglossia in Catalan is typically stronger in metropolitan areas than in moderately to sparsely populated areas.
This phenomenon affects Alghero (whose local Catalan dialect remains in severe danger of extinction despite the recent revival in its usage), some areas in the Balearic Islands, so-called "North Catalonia" and, in its Valencian modality, some areas in the Valencian Community as well.
However, the colloquial spoken Chinese varieties continued to evolve. The gulf became so wide between the formal written and colloquial spoken languages that it was blamed for hindering education and literacy, and some even went so far as to blame it in part for the political turmoil that occurred in China during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This eventually culminated in the adoption of Vernacular Chinese, which was based on modern spoken Mandarin, for all formal communication.
For instance in Hong Kong, Standard Cantonese is the primary language of spoken communication, although all formal written communication is done in Vernacular Chinese. Unique among the other Chinese dialects, Cantonese has its own written form, but it is only used in informal contexts and is often inconsistent due to the absence of standardization.
Literate Chinese speakers can read and write in the Mandarin-based standard written language. However because the graphemes in Chinese's logographic writing system are not directly linked to pronunciation (though there are quasi-phonetic hints), Cantonese speakers who do not speak Mandarin will read aloud the characters in Cantonese pronunciation only. The resulting speech is Mandarin-based grammar and vocabulary pronounced word-by-word in Cantonese. If the same sentence were to be spoken using regular colloquial Cantonese, it might be quite different. Here is an example:
|English Sentence||Please give me his book.|
|Standard Written Chinese Rendition (Traditional Chinese characters)|
|Standard Written Chinese Rendition (Simplified Chinese characters)|
|Standard Mandarin Pronunciation of Writing||Qǐng gěi wǒ tā de shū.|
|Cantonese Pronunciation of Writing||Chíng kāp ngóh tā dīk syū.|
|Written Colloquial Cantonese Rendition|
|Colloquial Cantonese Pronunciation||M̀h-gōi béi kéuih bún syū ngóh.|
In the above example, note the switching of the direct and indirect objects and the use of different vocabulary for certain words in the standard Chinese and colloquial Cantonese renditions. In addition, Cantonese allows the use of measure words to serve in the place of a genitive particle.
Cantonese pronunciation of standard written Chinese is generally understandable to Cantonese speakers educated in the standard written language. It is most often used in Cantonese newscasts, albeit with certain substitutions of colloquial Cantonese vocabulary so as to make it not sound as stilted. This form of spoken Cantonese is a higher register and can be considered the acrolect to the colloquial Cantonese basilect.
Continuing the previous example for comparison, using Classical Chinese it would be:
|Classical Chinese Rendition (Traditional Chinese characters)|
|Classical Chinese Rendition (Simplified Chinese characters)|
|Standard Mandarin Pronunciation of Classical Chinese||Qiú ěr yǔ wǒ qí shū.|
|Cantonese Pronunciation of Classical Chinese||Kàuh yíh yúh ngóh kèih syū.|
Because Chinese's logographic writing system doesn't indicate exact pronunciation, the pronunciation of Classical Chinese in Old Chinese is generally not possible (though tentative reconstructions of the phonology of Old Chinese have been attempted). Instead, Classical Chinese is also generally pronounced according to the local dialect (such as the Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations given above), much like how Cantonese speakers pronounce the modern Mandarin-based Vernacular Chinese using Cantonese.
Unlike the situation with modern Chinese though, Classical Chinese spoken according to the pronunciations of the modern spoken Chinese varieties is still largely unintelligible without training due to the syntax and vocabulary changes that Chinese has undergone since Old Chinese. In addition, sound mergers in the modern dialects cause many distinct words in Classical Chinese to sound homophonous. For one notable example, see Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den.
Until the 1970s, the Greek language distinguished between Dimotiki, the colloquial language which was used in everyday discussions and the extremely formal and archaic Katharevousa, which was used in more "educated" contexts, as in school, in court, in law texts etc. Extreme Katharevousa was, in fact, nearly pure Ancient Greek, and as such, nearly completely unintelligible to children and adults without higher education. This was the reason for the Greek language question, which was a heated dispute on which language form was to be the official language of the state. This dispute was eventually settled, and today the single language used in all texts is an educated variant of Dimotiki, which was enriched by many expressions from Katharevousa. This variant is commonly called Modern Greek.
Maltese society has been traditionally quite strongly divided, politically, between the working class and middle and upper classes and this is reflected in their language use. Although all Maltese can speak their native language, the extent to which one uses and is able to speak English often reflects one's background. This is most clearly illustrated by the different newspapers in Malta: the liberal/conservative ones are in English (with names like the Times of Malta and Malta Independent) and the more left-leaning ones are in Maltese. Maltese people of a middle- and upper-class background will often speak English or use code-switching extensively in public. There have been warnings from several quarters including a linguistics professor from the University of Malta that the Maltese language could become endangered if the government (currently the right of centre Nationalists) does not do more to promote it, in the same way that English displaced Welsh in Wales.
Before 1934, Italian was the official language of Malta. Those in higher class positions spoke Italian, and were often associated with the Italian irredenta movement, which promoted the unification of Malta with Italy. It was only those of lower class at the time whose ancestors came from Sicily too long ago for them to still be fluent in Italian, that spoke Maltese. Today, the influence of the Italian language is still very present in Malta. Not only is it used in the professional workplace, but it is also key to Malta's media, such as Television, Radio, and publications .
|Russian word||Slavonic word||Russian term|
On the other hand, the language of the Russian Orthodox church changed considerably with Russian vernacular forms after Peter the Great cancelled its official status and subordinated the Church to the State.
Literary or written Sinhala is commonly understood, and used in literary texts and formal occasions (public speeches, TV and radio news broadcasts, etc.), whereas the spoken language is used as the language of communication in everyday life. Children are taught the written language at school almost like a foreign language.
However, other analysts prefer to see variation in the English spoken in Singapore along a continuum, with the style adopted depending on the education level and circumstances of the conversation. Some proficient speakers who are well-educated have been shown to use mostly SStdE but with lots of pragmatic particles when talking to their friends, and this seems to provide evidence to support the continuum analysis.
It is certainly true that speakers are able to switch quite abruptly, for example as they exit a classroom and start chatting to their friends, so one way or another there are many characteristics of diglossia in spoken Singapore English.
Tagalogs (ethnic group) originating from provinces outside of Metro Manila speak their own dialect of Tagalog. An example is of the province Batangas, which has its own dialect of Batangueño Tagalog. Speakers of Batangueño Tagalog who go to Manila often suppress their dialect and accent, eventually learning to use the Manila dialect. They would only speak their native dialect when they gather with others of their group. Also, having a regional accent is usually met with amusement, but it is not frowned upon. And although there are some who would maintain their accents, their use is very minimal outside their hometowns and peers.
At the moment, very little is written using any other dialect of Tagalog other than that of Manila.
The classic form is preferred for writing, and is also used for public speaking. While the written Tamil language is mostly standard across various Tamil-speaking regions, the spoken form of the language differs widely from the written form. The diglossic form of Tamil has held back its development as a language. Therefore, Perunchitthranar, a Tamil nationalist and others of his ilk, advocated that all Tamils speak only the pure form of the language, i.e., Senthamizh.
Tamil fiction-writers use "Senthamizh" for all descriptive writing and use "Iyatramizh" only to narrate conversations between the characters in their works. There have been exceptions to this rule. Noted novelist Kalki Krishnamurthy once dismissed "Senthamizh" as "Kodunthamizh" (tortured Tamil). Even though all Tamils - no matter how educated they are - always converse in colloquial Tamil, Tamil novels used to depict educated people speaking in the classic form. Several decades ago, most Tamil movies only had characters who spoke in classical Tamil.
Regional and caste differences can be distinctly heard in spoken Tamil. Tamil in the state capital Chennai (formerly Madras) is somewhat distinct from that spoken elsewhere. Due to its proximity to Andhra Pradesh, Chennai Tamil has more Telugu loan words than the Tamil spoken in southern Tamil Nadu . Chennai Iyatramizh also often has more words of Urdu (or Deccani) than do varieties of Tamil from elsewhere in the state.
Throughout Tamil Nadu, there are several varieties of spoken Tamil. Tamil Brahmins speak a sort of "brahmin Tamil". The largely agrarian middle castes converse in their own dialect of Iyatramizh; this is the 'standard' spoken Tamil of today's Tamil movies and fiction. Similarly, the Scheduled Castes (formerly called Untouchables) speak forms of Iyatramizh with clear grammatical differences from the varieties spoken by the so-called higher castes.
However, regional differences are more interesting to note. The Tamil dialects spoken by people in Northern districts of Tamil Nadu like Arcot, Chennai and Southern districts like Tirunelveli and Madurai are somewhat different from each other. Like in other parts of the world, the dialectical differences between various regions are vanishing due to the influence of mass communications. So apparently are the differences between the speech patterns of the various caste groupings in Tamil Nadu. It is important to note that all forms of spoken Tamil have always been mutually intelligible. Also see Tamil for dialectical variations in Iyatramizh
Using the Matched-Guise Test, Laada Bilaniuk (University of Michigan) administered surveys to 2,000 participants in Ukraine. In her article "Diglossia in Flux: Language and Ethnicity in Ukraine", Bilaniuk reports that until now, Russian has been the High language and Ukrainian the Low language. However, her data shows that diglossia in Ukraine is shifting.
Yavorska Galyna M. Prescriptyvna lingvistyka yak dyskurs: Mova, kultura, vlada (Prescriptive linguistics as a discourse: Language. Culture. Power). Kyiv, VIPOL, 2000. - 288 p. Yavorska G. Do problemy naivnoyi linguistyky (On the problem of folk linguistics). - Lingvistychni studii. Cherkassy, 1999, # 3. - 13-20. Yavorska G. Dejaki osoblyvosti movnykh kontaktiv blyz'kosporidnenykh mov (do kharakterystyky ukrain's'koho puryzmu) (On contacts of closely related languages: some features of Ukrainian purism). In memoria of K. Trofymovych. L'viv, Litopys, 1998.
In 50 years the language will "divide". About 16% of the language in A1 will change, and 16% in A2 also, may be not the same 16%! As a result the percentage will be between 16 and 32. The situation now, 50 years after World War II in the countries mentioned above is very close to these scientific theoretical results that we have not on the base of research of these countries.
The Morphology of 16th-Century Slovak Administrative-Legal Texts and the Question of Diglossia in Pre-Codification Slovakia
Jun 01, 2011; Mark Richard Lauersdorf. The Morphology of 16th-Century Slovak AdministrativeLegal Texts and the Question of diglossia in...
English as a Lingua Franca or the New Global Latin. Sociolinguistic Considerations from the Conference Interpreter's Standpoint
Jun 01, 2011; ABSTRACT In our globalized world English has become not only factually the most widely used, but also the most socially...