Errata for
Diglossia: Examples and implications

Bibliographic Reference for this Article

Duke, Daniel J. 1996. Diglossia: Examples and implications. Notes on Literature in Use and Language Programs 47:43--54.

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  • Sociolinguistics
  • Number 47 (March 1996)
  • Links to Corrected Bibliographic References
    Corrected Bibliographic References
    Breitborde, L. B. 1983. “Levels of analysis in sociolinguistic explanation: Bilingual code-switching, social relations, and domain theory.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 39:1--43.

    Social networks determine language choice. A case study in a Kru church in Liberia. He suggests that domains, situations, and relations are not enough to predict language choice; there is a need to account for wider and more specific factors: “levels of analysis.”

    Language planners must take into account all the factors which may affect the program; both the broad national issues (that is, economics) as well as the microlevel social relations.

    Britto, Francis. 1986. “Diglossia: A study of the theory with application to Tamil.” Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press (360 pages).

    This book gives a good review of the principal literature concerning diglossia, with a detailed reaction to Ferguson (1959) and Fishman (1967). The Tamil study is very complete and historical. Britto favors the views of Fishman (broadening diglossia).

    Included is an annotated glossary of diglossic terms.

    Tamil is a major language with a long and well-documented history and literature. It is a classical Fergusonian example, since the “old, pure” form is used for literature, and so forth. These kinds of situations are less likely to be encountered working in preliterate societies as SIL does.

    Dodson, C. J. 1986. “Bilingualism and a sense of 'peopleness'.” In The Fergusonian impact, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 2:387--393. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Welsh example of language revival resulting in bilingualism without diglossia--no compartmentalization of usage between the two languages. Important factors mentioned include group identity, government support, diversity of the languages, and individual commitment to be “balanced bilinguals.”

    Points to the importance of a group's identity, or “sense of peopleness.”

    Dharmadasa, K. N. O. 1977. “Nativism, diglossia, and the Sinhalese identity in the language problem in Sri Lanka.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 13:21--31.

    Historical account of the language situation in Sri Lanka, with detail given to the effect that nationalist revivals have had in creating and maintaining a diglossic situation with all writing done in the H which is not comprehended.

    Excellent example of the historical perspective to language attitudes which will determine reaction to language projects.

    Fasold, Ralph. 1984. “Diglossia.” Chapter 2. The sociolinguistics of society. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    A good introduction to diglossia, with a review of the literature, and Fasold's own evaluation and interpretation.

    Fellman, Jack. 1975. “On diglossia.” Language Sciences 36:34--36.

    Fellman attempts to limit the scope of the term “diglossia” more precisely to a Fergusonian range. Hebrew as a dead classical language of the Middle Ages compared with Hebrew as a high language variation in the second temple period: should they both be called “diglossia”?

    He raises the question of nonvital, noncomprehended classical languages often found in the domain of religion and writing: are these true cases of diglossia? If they are, we at SIL need to take them into account very seriously in our language planning.

    Ferguson, Charles. 1959. “Diglossia.” Word 15:325--340.

    The seminal work on diglossia, which is constantly referred to in the literature. Presents a very concise typology, giving as examples the diglossic situations of Arabic nations, Switzerland, Haiti, and Greece. Gives seven features, one of which was compartmentalization of usage. Notes some predictions possible for the typology.

    The implications of diglossia will be noted throughout, as it may be an important factor to weigh in our language planning.

    Ferguson, Charles. 1982. “Religious factors in language spread.” In Language spread, edited by Robert Cooper. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 95--106.

    There is no simple, direct relationship between religion and language, but religious factors are often very significant for language spread. Examples [are] given of Latin, Punjabi, Sanskrit, and Pali. [Gives] strong connection between religion and writing system.

    Religious considerations are clearly important for the script we use in a language program. One must be aware of religious ideology toward language use, both our own and the ideology of the nationals.

    Fishman, Joshua. 1967. “Bilingualism with and without diglossia; diglossia with and without bilingualism.” Journal of Social Issues 23:29--38.

    The other essential work on diglossia which changed the term and opened it up to be applied to a plethora of situations. The term may have lost predictive power, but it has become widely applied as a result of this article.

    The broad view of diglossia has generated a large number of case studies, many of which can be found in this bibliography.

    Francescato, Giuseppe. 1985. “Bilingualism and diglossia in their mutual relationship.” In The Fergusonian impac, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 2:395--401. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Presents an interesting typology of bilingualism based on five distinctions:

    1. Spontaneous versus guided acquisition
    2. Simultaneous versus successive acquisition
    3. Collective versus isolated use/identity
    4. Dynamicity
    5. Balance

    Proposes distinction between intra- and inter-linguistic bilingualism. The incorporation of diglossia into this typology is not well demonstrated, but the ideas are salient.

    This article gives something of a framework for further subdividing diglossia. Perhaps the most interesting point is acquisition: how are the languages we will be dealing with learned? This could be very important.

    Gal, Susan. 1978. “Peasant men can't get wives: Language and sex roles in a bilingual community.” Language in Society 7(1):1--16.

    Language shift in a small bilingual town in Austria: German language of work and economic advantage. Women are learning German more rapidly than men, and language choice identifies speaker with economic status: either upwardly-mobile or peasant.

    We need to remember the economic factors which may be involved in language shift. Also, the identity the people are wishing to present.

    Halliday, M. A. K., Angus McIntosh, and Peter Strevens. 1968. The users and uses of language. In Readings in the sociology of language, edited by Joshua Fishman. The Hague: Mouton. 139--169.

    This is a good basic introduction to the terms and concepts of sociolinguistics (although somewhat lengthy).

    Good source of definitions for such terms as “dialect” and “register.”

    Hudson-Edwards, Alan. 1984. “Rediscovering diglossia.” Southwest Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(1):5--15.

    The purpose of diglossia as formulated by Ferguson (1959) was to provide a typology of a very specific language situation. Nine parameters were given, and the typology provided useful predictions. The expanding of the term has lost all of that, and the author proposes keeping the original “diglossia” and making other useful typologies to account for other language situations.

    One interesting point he brought out is the relationship between literacy and diglossia: widespread literacy in the L may destroy the diglossia equilibrium.

    Hymes, Dell. 1986. “The general epistle of James.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 62:75--103.

    Applies text linguistics (including discourse analysis) to James, and presents message in terms of communication. James gives the patterns of communication that should characterize the church as it waits for the Lord's coming.

    Very significant article in that it demonstrates the application of linguistic ideas to Scripture.

    Johnson, Bruce. 1975. “More on diglossia.” Language Sciences 37:37--38.

    A response to the Fellman article, emphasizing diglossia as a typological concept.

    We may have overextended the use and meaning of “diglossia.” Typology is the central issue: what is implied by “diglossia”?

    Mahmoud, Youssef. 1986. “Arabic after diglossia.” In The Fergusonian Impact, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 1:237--251. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Ferguson (1959) discussed Arabic as an example of diglossia, and predicted the arise of an intermediate form between H and L. This has in fact occurred with the use of modern standard Arabic. Factors cited for this change include: widespread literacy, broader communication, and desire for a full-fledged standard “national” language.

    Our programs introducing literacy and Scriptures will have an impact on the language situation, even to the point of overturning a diglossic situation. This implies that literacy in the vernacular or a modified vernacular may be acceptable even in a diglossic situation.

    Meeus, Badewijn. 1979. “A diglossic situation: Standard vs. dialect.” In Sociolinguistic studies in language contact, edited by William Francis Mackey and Jacob Ornstein. The Hague: Mouton. 334--344.

    The case of Dutch and Flemish in Belgium. Domains may be grouped into two opposing sets of spheres: public life and private life. “The language of dating and courting is the language of the future nuclear family.”

    Will the Scriptures be used in the public or private sets of spheres? They may be mutually exclusive. Careful attention must be given to predicting the future language of the home. In some instances, participant observation may be necessary to determine the language of courting.

    Parasher, S. V. 1980. “Mother-tongue English diglossia: A case study of the Indian bilingual's language use.” Anthropological Linguistics 22(4):151--68.

    Domains of using English versus the mother tongue for 350 urban, educated Indians. Results surprising in that English use dominates all domains except family, despite government policies ruling otherwise.

    This is a good example of a domain study using observations, questionnaires, and interviews. Shows disturbing extent of English domination: all but the home, and even used at home with the children. Question: if the only domain left to the vernacular is the home, is it worth translating for them?

    Pauwels, Anne. 1986. “Diglossia, immigrant dialects, and language maintenance in Australia: The case of Limburg and Swabian.”Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 7(1):13--30.

    Case study comparing language maintenance patterns of two groups of immigrants to Australia: Standard (Dutch or German) speakers versus Variant Dialect (Limburg Dutch or Swabian German) speakers. There was not a significant difference between the two groups for language shift, but the variant dialect speakers lost their command of the standard, which had been the H in a diglossic situation.

    Migration is an important factor in language shift, and this study shows how it can destroy diglossia: the mother tongue was retained, but not the H. The mother tongue was the more durable of the two languages, perhaps indicating that the mother tongue would be the best language for literacy.

    Petyt, K. M. 1975. “Romania--a multilingual nation.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 4:75--101.

    A very complete description of the use of languages in Romania, using Steward's and Ferguson's typologies.

    A good example of a national linguistic profile, giving a complete description of important factors.

    Scotton, Carol Myers. 1986. “Diglossia and code-switching.” In The Fergusonian impact, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 2:402--415. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    The narrow view of diglossia (Ferguson 1959) excludes code-switching except in the case of leakage: contact with another speech community which does speak the H as a vernacular. Therefore, code-switching between H and L would indicate a change for the narrow diglossia. In the case of the broad diglosssia of Fishman (1967), code-switching between the two may be expected. The article includes a good typology of code-switching.

    Code-switching is an easily-observed phenomenon and therefore any predictions about language use which can be inferred from its presence will have wide application to language planning.

    Singh, Udaya Narayama. 1985. “Diglossia in Bangladesh and language planning problems.” In The Fergusonian impact, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 2:431--447. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Presents the current diglossic situation in Bangladesh between the H Sadhu and the L Calit. There is leakage: the L is taking over nearly all domains formerly associated with the H. Using surveys with questionnaires, Singh attempted to pinpoint the current language attitudes of people, and found that the language shift was rapidly occurring. The government still upholds the old H, and this is a problem for most students, as they must learn both codes, neither of which is related to their mother tongue. A key is the H as an international language, which is used in neighboring India.

    This is a good case study: the methodology of the survey was meticulously documented. It also gives a good account of some of the factors that the government and the people have in mind in their view of language planning.

    Wald, Paul. 1986. “Diglossia applied: Vernacular mixing and functional switching with Bangui Yakomas.” In The Fergusonian impact, edited by Joshua Fishman and others. Volume 2:417--430. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

    This presents a language situation in an urban context. Sango is a Creole-recently-turned-vernacular which has influenced the vernacular Yakoma. However, the “pure” Yakoma is still remembered and used for the ceremonies, proverbs, and quotes. Some very interesting code-switching is documented.

    This is a very relevant article to our work in urban areas. Also addresses issues about the language of wider communication: should we let our translations be influenced by the LWC, or should we preserve the “pure form”?

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