Chapter Eight
The Tenth Week
Key points
Choosing a Code
 Linguistic Taboos and Euphemisms
 Language and gender
 Bilingualism and multilingualism
 Code-switching
 Language use of the two different gender
8.3 Choosing a Code
8.3.1 Diglossia
 8.3.2 Blilngualism and multilingualism
 8.3.3 Code-switching
8.3.1 The Definition of Diglossia
Diglossia, a term first introduced by Ferguson in
1959 to refer to a sociolinguistic situation similar to
bilingualism, usually describes a situation in which
two very different varieties of language co-exist in
a speech community, each with a distinct range of
purely social function and appropriate for certain
Two very different varieties of the same language
are used, for two different sets of functions. A
sitration of this kind is called diglossia.
High variety or H-variety (优势变体) and
Low variety or L-variety (劣势变体)
Both varieties are standardiezed to some degree, are felt
to be alternatives by native speakers, and usually have
special names. Usually, the more standard variety is called
the High variety (H) or H-variety (优势变体),the other is
called the Low variety or L-variety (劣势变体). The High
variety is learnt in school, tends to be used in sermon,
political speeches, lectures, in the media, and inpoetry and
letters; and it has greater social prestige. The low variety is
used in family conversations, and other relatively informal
Examples of H-variety and Lvariety
Ex. (1) The German speaking part of Switzerland.
(2) Diglossia also exists in most Arabic-speaking
countries where the High variety is used in
religious speeches and formal political talks, while
the low variety is the local dialect of colloquial
Arabic. (3) Diglossia existed with Latin as the High
variety and local languages such as English and
French as the Low variety.
8.3.2 Bilingualism and
Bilingualism refers to a situatin where two
languages are used by an individual or by a
group of speaker, such as the inhabitants of
a particular region or a natin.
Horizontal bilingualism (横向性双语现象) and
Diagonal bilingualism (倾斜性双语现象)
If the language spoken in a bilingual society
have equal status in the official, cultural, and
family life of the society, the situation is
referred to as horizontal bilingualism (横向
性双语现象), whereas diagonal
bilingualism (倾斜性双语现象)obtains when
only one language has official standard
Regardless of the differences in the
appproximation of perfect bilingualism, most
bilingual communities have one thing in
common, that is, a fairly clear functional
differentiation of the two languages in
respect of speech situations known as
Example of domain
A bilingual Puerto Rican living in the US may use
Spanish as the language of the home, un the
sense that it would always by used in talking
informally with other memebers of the family at
home about domestic matters. That same person
might use English in the Employment Domain in
the office, or at home when the topic of a
conversationdoes not concern anything in the
Home Domain.
Multilingualism refers to a situation where
three or more languages are used by an
individual or by a group of speakers such as
the the inhabitants of a particular region or a
Examples of Multilingualism
Ex. Multilingualism exists among the Tukano
of the northwest Amazon, on the border
between Colombia and Brazil.
8.3.3 Code-switching
Bilinguals often switch between their two
languages or language varieties in the
middle of a conversation. This phenomenon
is called code-switching.
(√) Code-switching occurs quite
For one thing, every person has to play
many roles in society as mother, father,
teacher, patient or client. Different roles
require different forms of language.
Secondly, there are so many different
situations for language use.
Situational code-switching(情景语码转换) and
Metaphorical code-switching(隐喻语码转换)
Situational code-switching occurs when the
language used changes according to the
situation in which the participants find
themselves: they speak one language in
one situationa and another in a different
8.4 Linguistic Taboos and
Some words are rarely used in formal
contexts because they are socially
unacceptable in suc contexts.
A word that we are reluctant to use may be
called a taboo word. “Taboo” is from
Tongan language “tabu” , a Polynesian
language, in late 18th century and
introduced into English by Captain Cook,
which means “set apart, forbidden”. Ex.
“four-letter words”
Linguistic taboo originates from social taboo.
When an act is taboo, reference to this act
may also become taboo. Taboo words and
expressions reflect the particular social
coustoms and views of a particular culture.
Examples of taboo
Sacred language was taboo.
“bloody” is a taboo word that some “respectable”
people consider it a horid word because it refers to
the blood of Christ.
Latin words sound “scientific” while their native
Anglo-Saxom counterparts are often consideren
In many cultures, words relating to sex, sex
organs, and natural bodily functions make up a
large part of taboo vocabulary.
A more acceptable substitute of a taboo word may
be called a euphemism. The word euphemism is
taken from Greek word euphemismos, and
means “sound good” or “good speech” or “to
speak with good words”. A euphemism is a polite
or more pleasant word or expression you use
instead of a more direct one in order to avoid
upsetting others.
Taboo and euphemism
The existence of taboo words or taboo ideas
stimulates the creation o f euphemisms,
since euphemisms may very well serve as
plite substitutes for taboo language. Taboo
and euphemism are, thus, two faces of the
same communication coin.
Pass away
Economically deprived
Low-income dresses
Dignified marton
Ngative savings
Retirement pension
Unemployment benefit
Take industrial action
Chemical dependency
Under the weather
Low IQ/slow
Companion animal
Disposal officer/
Sanitation engineer
Correctional facility
chep clothes
old woman
ole-age pension
go on strike
dury addiction
(√) Euphemisms are everywhere.
Ex. Death and dying: tp pass away, to
expire, to b no more, to rest in peace, to be
out of his misery, to go to meet his Maker, to
cross over the Great Divide, to go to his final
resting place, go to a better place.
8.5 Language and Gender
The study of language in relation to gender has
two main focuses: First, it has been observed by
many linguists that men and women speak
differently; secondly, it has been observed by
many feminists and by some linguists that men
and women are spoken about differently, and it is
often claimed that the language is discriminatory
against women.
Different talking ways of both sexes
(1) In the same gender pairs having conversationsl women
genereally discuss their perosnal feelings more than men.
(2) Men seem to prefer non-personal topics such as sports
and news.
(3) Men tend to respond to an expression of feelings or
problems by giving advice on solutions.
(4) Women are more likely to mention personal
experiences that connect with the other woman’s.
(5) In mixed-gender pairs having conversations, the rate of
men interrupting women is greater than the reverse.
It has been suggested that there is a great deal of
extra pliteness in female speech which makes use of
the following linguistic devices
(i) Frequent use of hedges like “I’, afraid that…”, “I’m not
sure but…”, “kind of”, and “sort of”. For example, “John is
kind of short” instead of “John is short”.
(ii) Abundant use of tag questions as in “The lecture is
terribly interesting, isn’t it?”
(iii) Greater use of qualifiers and intensifiers than men:
“awfully”, “lovely”, “terribly”, and “ fascinationg”, among
(iv) Preference ofr use of the standard form of language on
many occasions when men would not.
(√) Language reflects sexism in
Language itself is not sexist, but it can
encode sexist attitudes. Ex. My cousin------the cousin is a man.
Euphemisms abund for “toilet” (which is itself
a euphemism). What are some of them? Can
you judge them in terms of acceptability for
vrious kinds of social functions and
There are various suggestions why women
tend to approximate more closely to the
standard language than men do. What do you
consider to be relevant factors?