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DIGLOSSIA

Sociolinguistics encompasses a broad range of concerns including the use of two or more language varieties in distinct social domains within the same speech community, i.e., the use of two distinct varieties of the same language for different functions. There are many societies where the official language that is used at schools or media is significantly different from that used at home or in ordinary conversations and often called a dialect or vernacular. Such a situation is referred to by linguists as diglossia, a term that was introduced in 1959 by the linguist Charles Ferguson, and it has attracted wide attention since the publication of his article in which he used the term. Diglossia has many definitions that were introduced by many linguists such as Ferguson, Trudgill, Fellmanetc. Basically, the term Diglossia was first introduced in 1959 by the linguist Charles Ferguson, as he wrote in his article, on the French diglossie, which has been applied to this situation, since there seems to be no word in regular use for this in English; other languages of Europe generally use the word for bilingualism in this sense as well. Furthermore, Charles Ferguson defines diglossia as a situation where: In addition to the primary dialect or language . . . there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature . . . 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, 1959:336) Thus, Fergusons definition handles both the high variety as well as the low one. It also shows diglossia regarding the linguistic structures and how both varieties play different roles in communication process rather than being different in linguistics structure. On the whole, classic definitions of diglossia refer to relatively stable situations where everyone within a community uses the two varieties in these different domains. Actually, Fasold (1993: 35) also pointed out that there are two moderately distinct varieties of the same language, of which one is called the High dialect (H) and the other the Low dialect (L). Trudgill (1995: 97-98) defines diglossia as "a particular kind of language standardization where two distinct varieties of a language exist side by side throughout the speech community {} and where each of the two varieties is assigned a definite social function. The term diglossia may be limited to cases in which H and L are considered to be versions of the same language but they are different because each of them possesses its own (higher or lower) sociolinguistic status and therefore they are applied to two discrete functions. However, both H and L are appropriate in different types of situation; H variety is used in formal situations or contexts and the L variety is used as the language of everyday speech. In other words, according to Wardhaugh, (1990), H varieties are typically used for delivering formal

lectures, political speeches and in newspapers. L varieties are used when giving instructions to workers in low-prestige occupations, in conversation with familiars and often on the radio. According to Ferguson, there are several features that characterize diglossia. They are as follows: 1. Function: H is the formal language that is used in specific types of situations and writings, such as in formal lectures, newspapers, political speeches..etc. while L is used for daily conversations including calls, messages ..etc. When Ferguson defined diglossia, the functions of the High and Low varieties of the four languages which were in diglossic situation (namely, Standard German/Swiss German, Standard Arabic / Vernacular Arabic, Standard French/Creole in Haiti, and Katharevousa/ Dhimotiki in Greece) were complementary. Speakers use either H or L according to situation and formality. 2. Prestige: The speakers of the language concerned regard H as superior to L in a number of respects, e.g. H is considered more educated, more sophisticated, more logical, better able to express important thoughts. For example, in Arab countries, the superiority of H is connected with religion; that is, the language of the Holy Qur'an and

Hadeeth is Standard Arabic which is the high variety of Arabic language.


However, some speakers of the L variety, for example educated Arabs, often deny that they even use it, even though L is widely used in everyday conversations (Fasold 1993). Another example is Katharevousa

which enjoyed a very high prestige because of historical considerations since it was the language of the Greek civilization. 3. Literary heritage: All the literature is written in H variety. Despite the fact that some poems, stories, novels, etc. are written in L variety in most communities concerned with diglossia, they are considered not to be a pure literature compared to those written in H and taught at schools or universities. For example, the amount of literary works in Standard French is so huge. These literary works are considered of world literature, but Creole does not any literary heritage, except for some poems and prose which can never reach the high prestige of Standard French literature. The same is true for Arabic where there is a big literary heritage in Standard Arabic, and a very little heritage in Vernacular Arabic. 4. Acquisition: L is the language of home; therefore, it is acquired first . Later, at a certain age, the child learns the H variety at school. For example, since Swiss German is the Low variety and the native language of its speakers, it is acquired at home. Standard German is learnt afterwards in school. The same is true for the other diglossic societies mentioned by Ferguson. 5. Standardization: H is standardized because its grammars , dictionaries, etc. are written by native grammarians, e.g. in Standard Arabic , the rule that a sentence must have a subject that follows the verb " Nama Ahmad bilfondoq". Conversely, L is not strictly standardized despite the fact that one cannot speak a dialect randomly, there are rules that can

be recognized by sense and traditionally, e.g. in Arabic dialects the sentence may include a subject preceding the verb " Ahmad nam blfondoq" and it is not accepted to say the sentence without a subject "* nam blfondoq ". The same is true for the other diglossic situations. For example, Standard French is well known to be a standardized language with its norms and rules, but Creole was a spoken language with no written rules. 6. Grammar: The grammar of H variety is more complex than that of L variety . In H variety , the sentence must be grammatically and semantically correct, while in the L variety much attention is to the semantic issue , e.g. in a Saudi dialect one can use a plural pronoun to refer to duality " Amal wa Ilham akalo alasha'a " instead of " " Amal wa Ilham akalata alasha'a". Moreover, grammatical categories of H may not be available in L and the inflectional system of nouns and verbs of H is often reduced or completely absent from L (Ferguson 1996). 7. Stability: The diglossic situation in a given language is relatively stable. It can persist for several centuries, and in some cases seems to last well over a thousand years (Ferguson 1996). However, in the case of Arabic language is not fully stable because both H and L variety of it change by time. 8. Lexicon: The lexicon of both H and L varieties is somehow different though it is generally shared, e.g. in Saudi dialects the word "do" is referred to as "sawait" while in MSA it is " fa'alt".

9. Phonology: Both H and L varieties share the same phonological elements , but H has more complicated morphophonemics, e.g. MSA has the diacritics that are not used in dialects " baabon " in MSA and " baab" in dialects. Charles Ferguson noted that Arabic is often considered a diglossic language, for the existence of a higher and lower variations used in contexts. The higher variation is sometimes referred to as Fusha, Classical Arabic, Standard Arabic, or Modern Standard Arabic. This study adopts the term Modern Standard Arabic to represent a more modern version of the Arabic found in the Quran, which is used in formal contexts and writing. "Besides being the language of the Quran, Classical Arabic was also used as formal prose, such as for the sayings of the prophet (Hadith). This secured MSA Arabic an exalted position in the minds of Arabs, who saw in it the language of God and spirituality. Nevertheless, this exalted position also meant that the language was, like God, unattainable (Fellman, 1973:29). The lower variation is referred to simply as colloquial, spoken varieties of Arabic, vernacular. For example, when one says ''What do you want'' in MSA it is "matha turid?" while in colloquial Arabic, particularly in Saudi dialect, it is said as "aish tebga?"; the two forms are different though they are the same language but here the use of these forms depends on formality. In most cases, some non-linguists have claimed that the low language variety is almost always related to education and is considered less important than the high language variety. Fasold stated that:

"Most reasonably well-educated people in diglossic communities can recite the rules of H grammar, but not the rules for L. On the other hand, they unconsciously apply the grammatical rules of L in their normal speech with near perfection, whereas the corresponding ability in H is limited. In many diglossic communities, if speakers are asked, they will tell you L has no grammar, and that L speech is the result of the failure to follow the rules of H grammar." (Fasold, 1984:40). Accordingly, those who are proficient in the low language may be considered illiterate if they do not understand or know how to speak the high language variety. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, people who are not able to speak MSA are considered to be illiterate or have not received enough education even if they are from a high class. Ferguson's classic examples include Standard German/Swiss German, Standard Arabic/vernacular Arabic, Standard French/Creole in Haiti, and Katharevousa/Dhimotiki in Greece. Creole is now recognized as a standard language in Haiti. Swiss German dialects are hardly languages with low prestige in Switzerland (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 a few exceptions) 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 codeswitching 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. Therefore, diglossic language situations are defined by the existence of a "low" variety, used in the everyday language of the majority of the population, and a "high" variety, used in specific formal situations and usually spoken only by a minority of the population. In certain cases, there is a preference for the "high" variety, whereas the "low" variety is considered by its own speakers as a "degraded" version of the language. However, there is a movement of change towards these conceptions, and more countries with diglossic languages are beginning to use the "low" variety in situations where they were not suitable before.

References: Fasold, R. 1984. The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford: Blackwell. Fasold, R. 1993. The Sociolinguistics of Language. Oxford: Blackwell. Fellman, J. 1973. Sociolinguistic problems in the Middle Eastern Arab world. The Hague: Mouton. Ferguson, A. Charles. 1996. Sociolinguistic Perspectives: Papers on Language in Society 1959-1994. Ed. Thom Huebner. New York: Oxford University Press. Trudgill, P. 1995. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society. London: Penguin Books. Wardhaugh, R. 1990. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.

KSA