Diglossia: Variety and Speech Community

Topics: Variety, Dialect, Sociolinguistics Pages: 1 (312 words) Published: October 12, 2011
Diglossia is the relationship between two or more codified dialects that are used in the same speech community under different circumstances. Diglossia is categorised into two important hallmarks, the (H) high function which is seen as the superior dialect that is based on a grammatical system. It is formalised of rules, hence allowing thoughts and ideas to be expressed logically. However, the (L) function is connected to the standardised language of the speech community. It is used to express ideas and feelings close to one’s thoughts. The (L) variety is the first dialect that is taught to children as the mother tongue language followed by the (H) variety in schools. It is important however, to be able to distinguish between the context in which both the (H) and (L) varieties are used otherwise the individual is seen as a mockery. However, the ability to use both the (H) and (L) varieties in one speech community is acceptable as they can be used to complement each other when used in the right context. An example of the (H) and (L) variety is evident in the Arabic speech community, the Arabs are expected to use the (H) variety for education, politics and religion, as the (L) variety is not accepted in formal domains unless used to explain the ideas or concepts further. Thus, diglossia does play an important role within specific speech communities; however it is evident that trends of diglossia are continuously changing. Over time the change of trends can result in the (H) function of dialect fading due to the increase use of the (L) variety as the standard language. This can be problematic as the (H) variety is connected to religion, literature and education. In addition, the change between the (H) and (L) variety of a language in different domains can result in learning difficulties later on in life.
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