Most world’s population is whether bilingual or
multilingual countries. What do you think?
As a result, there is a huge number of linguistic varieties
such as: vernacular languages, standard languages,
lingua franca, pidgins and creoles.
These linguistic varieties are used by people to serve
different purposes in everyday interactions.
As mentioned before, the linguistic varieties or codes can
be changed because of different factors such as: setting,
topic, function, participants, and social dimensions:
solidarity, status, formality and function.
So, this chapter discusses what criteria are used by
linguists to distinguish between codes in multilingual
An Indian merchant called Patel from Bombay.
He uses five different dialects everyday ( at home, at railway
station, at work, when listening to cricket commentary)
His choices of codes are based on the factors mentioned
before (setting, topic, function, , and social dimensions:
solidarity, status, formality and function.)
His linguistic repertoire is improved by the fact that India is
one of the most multilingual nations.
What problems do people of India face because of this
linguistic diversity?
The term vernacular is used in a number of ways:
A language which hasn’t been standardized or codified.
A language which doesn't have official status.
It is a native dialect (like vernacular Arabic in Jordan) or a native
language (like Spanish in America) used by people to
communicate in informal contexts.
In multilingual countries, there are many tribal and ethnic
vernaculars used by different groups such as (Kurdish language
in Kurdistan Iraq).
Vernacular language is first acquired by multilingual people.
Any language which has native speakers would be considered a
A vernacular is an uncodified or unstandarised.
This component has been used as defining criterion, but
emphasis on other components that lead to the use of
the vernacular with different meanings:
The term can be extended to refer to any language that is
not the official language of a country.
For example, Greek is a vernacular language in Australia
but it isn’t in Greece or cypress
The first language of a group socially or politically
dominated by another group with different language.
So, it is the unofficial language in a particular context.
Spanish students use their vernacular to study in their
ethnic schools in the USA.
It refers to the most colloquial variety in the person's
linguistic repertoire.
In multilingual countries, this variety refers to the
unstandarised ethnic or tribal language which is used in
every day interactions. It is the language of solidarity.
But in monolingual countries it refers to the most informal
variety of language which may have a standard variety.
It is used to indicate that a language is used in informal
everyday interactions without implying that it is appropriate
only in informal domains.
For example, Hebrew was the language of religion with no
natives and wasn’t considered to be vernacular. Then its
functions were extended from exclusively H to include L
functions. This process is called vernacularisation.
To sum up, vernacular contrasts with ritual or classical
Exercise 1
a) Using the first definition above, which of the languages used by
Kalala in chapter 2, example 1, Patel in example 1 above, qualifies
as a vernacular language?
 Shi is Kalala's vernacular. It is his tribal language, learned first and
used in the home and with members of his ethnic group. In this
sense Gujerati is Mr. Patel's vernacular, though it is a written
language with a literary tradition.
b) Is Dyirbal described in chapter 3, example 4, a vernacular language?
 Dyirbal can be classified as a vernacular language on a number of
It unstandarised and unwritten. It is, or was, acquired in the home
and is used between of the same tribe for everyday interaction. Its
function are relatively circumscribed.
Standard language is defined as:
Generally, one which is written, and which has undergone some
degree of regularization.
Standard varieties are codified varieties. Codification is
achieved through grammar and dictionaries. Lexicographers
have to decide which words are standard or dialectal. They take
the usage of educated or socially prestigious members.
One which is considered as a prestigious language spoken by
noblemen, economical and political classes people at court
One which is used for H functions alongside a diversity of L
One which has no linguistic merits, but is spoken by those
who are politically powerful or socially prestigious.
Naturally emerged in the fifteen century from a variety of
regional dialects spoken by the court, merchants, agricultural
and business areas of London and the East Midlands .
In the sixteenth century, George Puttenham viewed that good
English speech was spoken at court and by noblemen.
It was influential because it was used by the economically
powerful merchant class. Also, people who came from the
provinces learned it to serve these goals. As a result. It
became easy to understand standard English.
The codification process, which is part of the development of
any standard variety, was accelerated in the case of English
with the introduction of the printing.
William Caxon, the first English printer, used the dialect
of London in his translation from French. He used the
vocabulary, the grammar, the pronunciation,
constructions and spellings.
To sum up, the development of standard English
illustrates three essential criteria which characterize a
1- An influential or prestigious variety.
2- A codified variety.
3- One which serves H functions.
Once a standard dialect develops, it provides a very
useful means of communication across areas of dialect
- Standard English nowadays is spoken in a lot of Asian
countries, African countries, Australia and the USA.
- Other countries like Australia and New Zealand
establish their own standard English.
- In Countries like Singapore, Britain English is used by
the government, schools and in official communication
rather than local English dialect.
In Europe, standard languages were emerged from a
variety of dialects of the vernacular languages which
all derived from colloquial Latin.
They were based on the dialects of political,
economic and social centers of countries.
Exercise 2
Look up the meaning of ‘standard’ in a good dictionary. Which of
the meanings listed seems closest to the definition provided in this
The following definition is the closest in the Collins Dictionary of the
English Language(1991). Standard: 'an accepted or approved example
of something against which other are judged or measured'.
Note the definition stresses the notion of a model or norm without giving
any indication of how that norm is determined or where it derives its
status from. Sociolinguists emphasize the social and non-linguistic
factors which determine the emergence of a particular variety as the
standard. They point out that purely linguistic considerations are rarely
important. Though linguists may be involved in codification, their
recommendations are generally guided by cultural or social factors such
as prestige and usage, rather than by the intrinsic linguistic features of
alternatives. This point is illustrated in the next chapter.
The term lingua franca describes a language serving
as a regular means of communication between
different linguistic groups in a multilingual speech
For example, when academics meet at international
conference, or when politicians arrange a summit,
they use lingua franca such as English.
It is a language used for communication between
people whose first languages differ.
For example, for the Colombian Indians who live in
the Amazon have over twenty languages. but Tukano
is the lingua franca for them. Also, they used Spanish
to communicate with non-Indians. ex4
See example 3 78
Sometimes, the official and national language is the most
useful and widely used lingua franca.
For example, Russian is the lingua franca for the countries
of the former soviet union whose over 700 different
In multilingual communities, lingua franca may displace
the vernacular.
For example, when two couples from different ethnic
groups in Zaire or Tanzania get married, they use the
lingua franca at home.
Lingua francas often initially develop as trade languages.
In west Africa, Hausa is learned as a second language and
is just spoken in markets.
The economic factor leads countries in east Africa to promote
Swahili as the national language.
What is pidgin?
A language develops as a means of communication
between people who do not have a common
language. So, it is a language without native
For example, it is the language of African people who
were taken to America to work in plantation. Their
language was a mixture of their own languages and
the language of their bosses.
Why do pidgins develop?
 It was the language of slaves who were taken from
Africa to work in plantation in America.
 On sea-coasts in multilingual context. It is the
language of trade between traders.
The word pidgin reflects it use. In Hebrew (pidjom)
means trade or exchange.
 Pidgins are used exclusively for referential rather
than affective functions.
It is used as the language of buying and selling and
animals hides, rather than to signal social
distinctions or express politeness. As a result, it isn’t
used to identify social groups.
What kind of linguistic features does a pidgin have?
Sounds, vocabulary and grammatical features of
different languages can contribute to have a new variety.
It has a small vocabulary, simplified sounds and
grammar to serve certain functions like trade and basic
For example, Juba Arabic is a combination of the
colloquial Arabic and the native language of south Sudan.
Pidgins are created from the combined efforts of people
who speak different languages.
When a pidgin is created, a prestigious language
supplies more vocabulary (lexifier language) and a
vernacular has more influence on grammar (substrate
Pidgins tend to reduce grammatical signals to
It is learned easily by the speakers, but difficult to be
understood by the listeners.
 Some structural features such as affixes and
inflections, which are used to mark gender, tenses
and plural, are not found in pidgins.
So, the information they convey has to be deduced
from the context.
Exercise 4
Consider the table 4.1. What evidence can you find to
support the claims that pidgin languages signal only a
minimum grammatical information explicitly?
Je vais
Tu vas
Nous allons
Vous allez
Elle/ils vont
I go
You go
She-he-it goes
We go
Tok Pisin
Cameron pidgin
Note that the verb in French changes its form with each
pronoun (though in speech there would be no distinction
between vas and va). Grammatical information about the
subject is expressed twice therefore, once by the form of
the pronoun and once by the verb form.
In English the verb has two different forms (go\goes)
distinguishing the third person singular verb form the
form with other subjects. In Tok Pisin and Cameroon
Pidgin the form of the verb is the same throughout. The
pronoun alone signals the change in person and number
of the subject.
What are the attitudes toward pidgins?
They do not have high status or prestige and, to
those who do not speak them, they are ridiculous
Many Europeans consider pidgins, which are derived
from their languages such as Tok Pisin in Papa new
Guinea, are debased forms of their languages. This
can lead to misunderstanding which can be very
serious. See ex 9 84
A pidgin may disappear when its functions end. For
example, in Vietnam the pidgin disappeared when
the trade died out.
What is a Creole?
 A pidgin which has acquired native speakers.
 Many languages which are called pidgins are in fact
now creoles. What do you think?
As families’ communicative needs expand, so do the
resources of the language they use. Also, children
acquire it naturally as their first language and use it
in a wide rang of domains. Tok Pisin in Papa new
Guinea and the languages of African slaves in
America are examples of this.
Once a Creole has developed, it is used for all functions
of any language – politics, administration, education and
so on.
Structural features
Example 11
Australia Rover River Creole
A) Im megim ginu
he makes a canoe (present simple)
B) Im bin megim ginu
he made a canoe (simple past)
C) Im megimbad ginu
he is making a canoe (present con)
D) Im bin megimbad ginu
he was making a canoe (past con)
A pidgin is a Creole which has expanded in structure and
vocabulary to serve the functions of a first language.
Creoles develop ways of systemically signalling meanings
such as verb tenses.
Example 12
Tok Pisin at different stages
A) baimbai yu go
you will go
B) bambai yu go
you will go
C) bai yu go
you will go
D) yu bai go
you will go
E) yu bego
you will go
In its pidgin stage reference to future events in Tok Pisin
used baimbai which derived from English phrase by and by.
As the pidgin developed into a Creole the adverb gradually
shortened to bambai or bai as in (b) and (c). Sentence (d)
illustrates an alternative position used for bai while (e)
shows how it eventually became attached to the verb as a
regular prefix signalling future tense.
As pidgins develop into Creole, they become more
structurally regular. Table 4.2
Tok Pisin
Tok Pisin
To enlarge, make larger
To make wide, widen
To lower
To spoil, damage
To frighten, scare
Origins and endings
Despite their geographical spread, many similarities
are found among pidgins and creoles.
Seven European languages (English, French,
Portuguese, Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian) are
lexifiers for most pidgins and creoles. So the
similarities are not surprising.
Some have argued that they had a common origin.
They claim that most pidgins can be tracked back to
a single fifteenth-century Portuguese pidgin, and
further to a Mediterranean lingua franca, Sabir
Others argue that each pidgin arises and develop
Why are they similar?
Pidgins arise in different contexts but for the same
kind of basic referential functions (trade-barter).
These functions are expressed through structural
processes which seem universal to all situations of
language development.
How does a Creole end?
In societies with rigid social divisions, creoles can serve
L functions.
For example, Haitian Creole is the L variety alongside
with French.
When the social barriers are fluid, the Creole may
develop towards the standard language.
When a Creole is used side by side with the standard
language in a community where the social barriers are
insuperable, the feature of the Creole tend to change
into the direction of standard variety. (decreolisation)
Over time, it is possible that a Creole may be
standardized and adapted as an official language as Tok
Exercise 7
Using the social dimensions introduced in chapter1 –
solidarity, status, formality and function- consider the
following linguistic varieties described in this chapter.
Lingua franca
Vernacular languages contrast with standardized varieties
predominantly on the status and formality dimensions.
Vernaculars are generally low status varieties used to express
solidarity or identity in informal contexts. Standard dialects
are prestigious varieties which may be used in more formal
Lingua francas and pidgin languages can perhaps be best
described in terms of their functions. They are both primarily
means of expressing referential function – they are
associated with informal but information-oriented contexts,
Pidgins and creoles are generally regarded as low status
linguistic varieties, though we will see the next chapter that
steps can be taken to raise the status of creoles which have
been selected for promotion for political reasons.

Basic Elements of An Academic Paper