DIGLOSSIAToday, the world in which we live has got smaller. As much clichéd as it may sound butthe world has become a global village. Keeping this in mind, one can understand thatdifferent societies with their respective cultures have come in contact with the othersocieties. Culture of a society represents its norms, traditions, laws, taboo, and especiallyits language. In a multicultural society different languages come into contact giving rise tostrange and interesting phenomena. A sociolinguist (one who studies the relationshipbetween language and society) gets the chance to study these phenomena.Thispresentation centers onDiglossia.Diglossia is a phenomenon which arises when a speaker or a community use two varietiesof a language, one of these two languages is a HIGH language (H), the other is LOWlanguage (L). H language is regarded as prestigious, it is thought by the speakers to beabove the L language. It is used in speeches, sermons, and formal conversations. Llanguage is not considered prestigious. It is the colloquial language of the majority whouse it in their everyday life in informal contexts. The speakers of L language are aware ofthe fact that their language is not regarded as prestigious giving them the reason to learnH language. The speakers of the H language do not want themselves to be associatedwith L language as it is shameful for them. Although it is a fact that the speakers of the Hlanguage had to learn it first, for H language can only be learned, it is not a nativelanguage. They deny any relationship with L language.A diglossic situation exists in a society when it has two distinct languages or varietiesof a language which show clear functional separation; that is, one code is employed inone set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different set.There are four language situations which show the major characteristics of thediglossic phenomenon: Arabic, Swiss German, Haitian (French and Creole), andGreek. In each situation there is a ‘high’ variety (H) of language and a ‘low’ variety (L).Each variety has its own specialized functions, and each is viewed differently by thosewho are aware of both.Some famous H and L languages:In the Arabic situation the two varieties are Classical Arabic (H) and the variousregional colloquial varieties (L). In Switzerland they are Standard German (H) and SwissGerman (L). In Haiti the varieties are Standard French (H) and Haitian Creole (L). InGreece they are the Katharévousa (H) and Dhimotiki, or Demotic (L), varieties of Greek.In each case the two varieties have coexisted for a long period, sometimes, as in the caseof Arabic, for many centuries. Consequently, the phenomenon of diglossia is notephemeral in nature; in fact, the opposite is true: it appears to be a persistent social andlinguistic phenomenon.A key defining characteristic of diglossia is that the two varieties are kept quiteapart in their functions. One is used in one set of circumstances and the other in anentirely different set. For example, the H varieties may be used for delivering sermons
and formal lectures, especially in a parliament or legislative body, for giving politicalspeeches, for broadcasting the news on radio and television, and for writing poetry,fine literature, and editorials in newspapers. In contrast, the L varieties may be used ingiving instructions to workers in low- prestige occupations or to household servants, inconversation with familiars, in ‘soap operas’ and popular programs on the radio, incaptions on political cartoons in newspapers, and in ‘folk literature.’ On occasion, aperson may lecture in an H variety but answer questions about its contents orexplain parts of it in an L variety so as to ensure understanding.You do not use an H variety in circumstances calling for an L variety, e.g., for addressinga servant; nor do you usually use an L variety when an H is called for, e.g., forwriting a ‘serious’ work of literature. You may indeed do the latter, but it may be arisky endeavor; it is the kind of thing that Chaucer did for the English of his day, andit requires a certain willingness, on the part of both the writer and others, to breakaway from a diglossic situation by extending the L variety into functions normallyassociated only with the H. For about three centuries after the Norman Conquest of1066, English and Norman French coexisted in England in a diglossic situation withNorman French the H variety and English the L. However, gradually the L varietyassumed more and more functions associated with the H so that by Chaucer’s timeit had become possible to use the L variety for a major literary work.The H variety is the prestigious, powerful variety; the L variety lacks prestige andpower. In fact, there may be so little prestige attached to the L variety that people mayeven deny that they know it although they may be observed to use it far more frequentlythan the H variety. Associated with this prestige valuation for the H variety, there is likelyto be a strong feeling that the prestige is deserved because the H variety is morebeautiful, logical, and expressive than the L variety. That is why it is deemed appropriatefor literary use, for religious purposes, and so on. There may also be considerable andwidespread resistance to translating certain books into the L variety, e.g., the Qur’an intoone or other colloquial varieties of Arabic or the Bible into Haitian Creole or DemoticGreek. (We should note that even today many speakers of English resist the Bible in anyform other than the King James version.)Another important difference between the H and L varieties is that all children learnthe L variety. Some may concurrently learn the H variety, but many do not learn it at all;e.g., most Haitians have no knowledge at all of Standard French but all can speak somevariety of Haitian Creole, although some, may deny that they have this ability. The Hvariety is also likely to be learned in some kind of formal setting, e.g., in classrooms or aspart of a religious or cultural teaching. To that extent, the H variety is ‘taught,’ whereasthe L variety is ‘learned.’ Teaching requires the availability of grammars, dictionaries,standardized texts, and some widely accepted view about the nature of what is beingtaught and how it is most effectively to be taught. There are usually no comparablegrammars, dictionaries, and standardized texts for the L variety.
The L variety often shows a tendency to borrow learned words from the H variety,particularly when speakers try to use the L variety in more formal ways.The result is acertain admixture of H vocabulary into the L. On other occasions, though, there may bedistinctly different pairs of words, i.e., doublets, in the H and L varieties to refer to verycommon objects and concepts. Since the domains of use of the two varieties do notintersect, there will be an L word for use in L situations and an H word for use in Hsituations with no possibility of transferring the one to the other. So far as thepronunciation of the two varieties is concerned, the L system will often appear to be themore ‘basic.’People living in a diglossic community do not usually regard diglossia as a ‘problem.’ Itbecomes a problem only when there is a growth of literacy, or when there is a desire todecrease regional or social barriers, or when a need is seen for a unified ‘national’language. In Haiti, any attempt to develop literacy had to confront directly the issue ofwhether to increase the amount of Standard French taught or to ‘elevate’ the L variety,Haitian Creole, into a national language. Haitian Creole was eventually recognized as anational language in 1983. Both languages were made official in 1987. There has been anongoing debate about the most appropriate orthography (spelling system) for HaitianCreole: about the use of certain letters and accents, and about whether the differencesbetween French and Haitian Creole should be minimized in the orthography for HaitianCreole or whether that orthography should be as transparent as possible in relatingletters to sounds, particularly the sounds of the most widespread variety of HaitianCreole. French, though not widely used, has such prestige that, according to Schieffelinand Doucet (1998, p. 306) virtually any proposal for an orthography for kreyòl hascreated ‘resistance both to the adoption of the orthography and to the use of kreyòl as amedium of instruction in school. The double resistance comes from both the masses andthe educated elite minority. The masses see the officialization of written and spokenkreyòl in school as limiting their access to French and, consequently, their social andeconomic mobility. The elites, who already know kreyòl, do not see the point of teachingit, in any form, in school.’The Greeks have still not entirely solved the problems associated with their twovarieties: ‘conservative’ Greeks want to resolve any differences in favor of the H variety,but ‘liberals’ favor the L variety. The twentieth century witnessed a long and sometimesbitter struggle between supporters of the two varieties. Religious authorities condemneda 1921 translation of the New Testament into Demotic Greek and this action led torioting in the streets of Athens. One consequence of the language disagreement wasthat, when the ‘liberal’ government of the 1960s was overthrown by the ‘colonels’ in1967, the former government’s program to extend the uses of Dhimotiki was supersededby restoration of use of the H variety,Katharévousa, for example in education, and thesuppression of Dhimotiki because of its association with ‘left-wing’ views. With the returnto constitutional government in 1975 the H was superseded in turn by the L, Dhimotikiwasdeclared the official language of Greece in 1976, and Katharévousa disappearedalmost entirely from public view. The new model for Greece seems to be based on thevariety spoken in Athens. Today, the opponents of this new Greek language based on the
L variety attack it for being impoverished and cut off from its roots, which are said to bethe former H variety and Ancient Greek (Frangoudaki, 1992). Tseronis (2002) says thatthe two most recent Greek dictionaries, the Dictionary of Modern Greek Language(DOMGL) and the Dictionary ofCommon Modern Greek (DOCMG) show that the processof standardization continues. The DOMGL finds its roots in Katharévousa and the DOCMGin Dhimotiki. However, both point to eventual unification around the variety spoken inAthens and an end to the H–L division.The linguistic situations in Haiti and Greece are intimately tied to power relationshipsamong social groups. Traditionally, in each country the H variety has been associatedwith an elite and the L variety with everyone else. Diglossia reinforces social distinctions.It is used to assert social position and to keep people in their place, particularly those atthe lower end of the social hierarchy. Any move to extend the L variety, even in the caseof Haiti to make the population literate in any variety, is likely to be perceived to be adirect threat to those who want to maintain traditional relationships and the existingpower structure.Swiss German diglossia has its own stabilizing factors. Switzerland is a multilingualcountry, with German, French, and Italian its three official languages. Strongconstitutional protection is provided for German, the H variety of which is taught in theschools and used in official publications, newspapers, literature, and church services. Thisallows the German Swiss to communicate with speakers of German elsewhere in Europeand gives them access to everything written in Standard German. However, the Germansin Switzerland can also assert their independence of other Germans through use of theirL variety. This is their own distinctive unifying spoken variety of German, one in whichthey take a special pride. The continuation of the High German–Swiss diglossic situationdepends every much on the continued effectiveness of educating Swiss German childrento use High German in the schools so as to encourage diglossia there. Some Swiss doworry that such teaching of High German may not always produce the desired results andthat any quest for identity through increased use of Swiss German might lead to growingcultural isolation from other users of German. In much the same way, the people ofLuxembourg have achieved a certain distinctiveness with their own diglossic – or betterstill, triglossic – situation (see Newton, 1996).However, the situation is a little more complicated in Luxembourg than inSwitzerland because still another language, French, is involved. All three languages– German, French, and Luxemburgish – have been official languages since 1984.Inhabitants of Luxembourg not only use Luxemburgish (e.g., in ordinary conversation)andStandard German (e.g., in letter writing, books, and newspapers), but they also useFrench (e.g., in parliament and higher education). Moreover, they frequently borrowwords from French for use in Luxemburgish. Consequently, it is not unusual for a speakerof Standard German who goes to live in Luxembourg to feel that Luxemburgish is avariety of French rather than a variety of German! French is highly regarded inLuxembourg and is also the most widely used language (by 96 percent of residents),although 81 percent can speak German and 80 percent can speak Luxemburgish.
However, the clear marker of Luxembourg identity among Luxembourgers is their use ofLuxemburgish; it is a solidarity marker just as is the use of Swiss German among SwissGermans.The Arabic situation is very different again. There are a number of flourishing regionalvarieties of the L and many Arabs would like to see the Arab-speaking world unify aroundone variety. They acknowledge the highly restricted uses of the H variety, but also revereit for certain characteristics that they ascribe to it: its beauty, logic, and richness. ClassicalArabic is also the language of the Qur’an. Ferguson has pointed out that choosing onecolloquial variety of Arabic to elevate above all others poses a number of problems.Almost certainly, any Arab will tell you that the variety he or she speaks is the ‘best,’ sothere would be considerable disagreement about where one should begin any attempt tostandardize modern Arabic on a single colloquial variety. There is, however, a consensusamong Arabs that any standard that may eventually emerge will be a version of the Hvariety developed to meet modern needs and purged of regional peculiarities and foreignimpurities.While acknowledging that diglossic situations are essentially stable, Ferguson did predictwhat he thought the future held for the situations he examined. He regarded thesituation in Switzerland as relatively stable. In Haiti, there would be a slow developmentof Haitian Creole based on the L variety of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Finally, in Greecethe standard would be based on the L variety of Athens with considerable admixture ofvocabulary from Katharévousa.What Ferguson describes are ‘narrow’ or ‘classic’ diglossic situations. They require theuse of very divergent varieties of the same language and there are few good examples.Fishman has broadened or extended the term to include a wider variety of languagesituations. For Fishman diglossia is ‘an enduring societal arrangement, extending at leastbeyond a three generation period, such that two “languages” each have their secure,phenomenologically legitimate and widely implemented functions.’ By acknowledgingthat his use of the termlanguage also includes sub-varieties of one language, Fishmanincludes Ferguson’s examples. He does add, though, that in the case of two varieties ofthe same language, they be ‘sufficiently different from one another that, withoutschooling, the elevated variety cannot be understood by speakers of the vernacular’.Fishman’s proposal extends the concept of ‘diglossia’ to include bilingual and multilingualsituations in which the different languages have quite different functions. For example,one language is used in one set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different setand such difference is felt to be normal and proper. Fishman gives examples such asBiblical Hebrew and Yiddish for many Jews, Spanish and Guaraní in Paraguay, and evenStandard English and Caribbean Creole.DEFINITIONS:DIGLOSSIA (WARDHAUGH, AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLINGUISTICS, P.89)
Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primarydialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is avery divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety,the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier periodor in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and isused for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of thecommunity for ordinary conversation.DIGLOSSIA (YULE, STUDY OF LANGUAGE, P.286)Diglossia: a situation where there is a “high” or special variety of a language used informal situations (e.g. Classical Arabic), and a “low” variety used locally and informally(e.g. Lebanese Arabic).DIGLOSSIA (EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG)In linguistics, Diglossia refers to a situation in which two dialects or usually closely relatedlanguages are used by a single language community. In addition to the communityseveryday or vernacular language variety (labeled "L" or "low" variety), a second, highlycodified 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.Charles A. FergusonCharles Albert Ferguson (July 6, 1921 – September 2, 1998) was a U.S. linguist who taughtat Stanford University. He was one the founders of sociolinguistics and is best known forhis work on diglossia. The TOEFL test was created under his leadership at the Center forApplied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Ferguson was also the leader of a team of linguistsin Ethiopia under the Ford Foundations Survey of Language Use and Language Teaching.One of the many publications that came out of this was his article proposing theEthiopian Language Area (Ferguson 1976), an article that has become widely cited and animportant milestone in the study of contact linguistics.Ferguson is also widely noted for his seminal article on diglossia, published in 1959 and(reprinted since then in other publications) and frequently cited by others.REFERENCES:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DiglossiaAN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLINGUISTICS 5TH EDITION, RONALD WARDHAUGHTHE STUDY OF LANGUAGE, GEORGE YULEhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_A._Ferguson