A Description of Diglossia

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  • Topic: Code-switching, Sociolinguistics, Diglossia
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DIGLOSSIA CODE-SWITCHING AND BORROWING
By Moazzam Ali To download more lectures Visit www.uogenglish.wordpress.com

DIGLOSSIA

DIGLOSSIA AS DEFINED BY FERGUSON


“Diglossia is a relatively stable situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety,…which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation.” Ferguson (1959, p.336)

DIGLOSSIA
Diglossic situation exists in a society when it has two distinct codes/languages which show clear functional separation; that is, one is employed in one set of circumstances and the other is entirely different set.  “high” variety = prestige language (public language) in a diglossic situation.  “low” variety = non-prestige (“home language”) language in a diglossic context 

HIGH VS. LOW LANGUAGE
High Language
Public Prestige School, government Literary tradition Signals high status

Low Language
Private Non-prestige Home, playground Often unwritten Signals intimacy

EXAMPLES OF DIGLOSSIA
Languages High Varieties (H) Low Varieties (L)

Arabic

Classical Arabic

Colloquial Varieties of Arabic Swiss German

Swiss German

Standard German

Haitian

Standard French

Haitian Creole

Greek

Katharevousa

Dhimotiki

CHARACTERISTICS
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Function Prestige Literary heritage Acquisition Standardization Stability Lexicon

OF

DIGLOSSIA

CHARACTERISTICS FUNCTION


OF

DIGLOSSIA

A key defining characteristic of diglossia is that two varieties are kept quite apart functionally. One is used in one set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different set. For example, „H‟ varieties are used for sermons and formal lectures whereas „L‟ varieties are used for the conversation with friends and family members.

CHARACTERISTICS FUNCTION
Sermon

OF

DIGLOSSIA
H
X

Functions of Language use Instruction to servants
Speech in parliament University lecture

L X

X X

Conversation with friends
Newspaper editorial X

X

CHARACTERISTICS PRESTIGE


OF

DIGLOSSIA

The „H‟ variety is the prestige variety; the „L‟ variety lacks prestige. In fact, there can be so little prestige attached to the „L‟ variety people may even deny that they know it although they may be observed to use it far more frequently than the „H‟ variety. It is also believed by these speakers that „H‟ variety is more beautiful, logical and expressive than the „L‟ variety

CHARACTERISTICS LITERATURE


OF

DIGLOSSIA

In a diglossic community, considerable body of literature will be found to exist in „H‟ variety and almost none in „L‟ variety. Speakers will gain prestige from being able to allude to classic recourses whereas the folk literature associated with the „L‟ variety will have none of the same prestige.

CHARACTERISTICS ACQUISITION


OF

DIGLOSSIA

In a diglossic community, all children learn the „L‟ variety at home. Some children may concurrently learn „H‟ variety but many do not learn it at all. The „H‟ variety is learnt in a formal setting like classroom.

CHARACTERISTICS STANDARDIZATION


OF

DIGLOSSIA

„H‟ variety enjoys the availability of grammars, dictionaries, standardized texts. On the other hand, „L‟ variety usually has no comparable grammars, dictionaries and standardized texts.

CHARACTERISTICS STABILITY


OF

DIGLOSSIA

Diglossic situation in a community typically persists at least several centuries, and evidence in some cases seems to show that it can last well over a thousand years.

CHARACTERISTICS OF DIGLOSSIA LEXICON
 „H‟

includes in its total lexicon technical terms and learned expressions which have no regular „L‟ equivalents, since the subjects involved are rarely if ever...
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