Diglossia

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When I was growing up in India, I spoke Sindhi (my mother tongue) at home and Hindi with friends but it was mandatory to speak in English at school. It is very common for people in India and many other countries to speak more than one language. Such a multi lingual situation where two languages or language varieties coexist in a society and each has a clear range of functions is known as diglossia. The pioneering scholar of diglossia, Charles A. Ferguson, summarised diglossia as: a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any section of the community for ordinary conversation. (Ferguson, Charles (1959). "Diglossia". Word 15: 325–340.) Language is a very powerful mechanism of human interaction and socialisation. It is a tool for communication and expression. Language matters in academia, in politics, in every facet of life. In fact it can be nuanced for every action or inaction. Language spreads and evolves as a result of human contact which is a result of emigration, colonisation and industrialisation. This essay discusses the role of power and politics in introducing and/or influencing diglossic situation in India and Hong Kong.

English has spread as a result of exploitation and colonisation. In colonial times, English was mainly used as the language of the government but in many ex-colonies of Britain, English continues to be the language of the exclusive social elite. (Cheshire 1991: 6). Cheshire, Jenny. 1991. Introduction: sociolinguistics and English around the world. In Cheshire, 1991: 1-12. Language is...
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