DIGLOSSIA
Deny A. Kwary
http://www.kwary.net
Airlangga University
Early Definition (1959)  p.88

Ferguson: Diglossia is a relatively stable
language situation, in which, in addition to
the primary dialects of the language, there
is a very divergent, highly codified
superposed variety… which is learned
largely by formal education and is used for
most written and formal spoken purposes.
The Features of Diglossia
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Function
Prestige
Literary heritage
Acquisition
Standardization
Stability
Grammar
Lexicon
Phonology
1. Function
H
Sermon
X
Instruction to servants
X
Speech in parliament
X
University lecture
X
Conversation with friends
Newspaper editorial
Etc.
L
X
X
2. Prestige
The speakers regard H
as superior to L in a
number of respects.
 E.g. H is considered
more educated, more
beautiful, more logical,
better able to express
important thoughts, etc.

3. Literary Heritage
There is a sizable body of written
literature in H which is held in high
esteem by the speech community.
4. Acquisition

Adults use L in speaking to children
and children use L in speaking to
one another.

The actual learning of H is chiefly
accomplished by the means of
formal education.
5. Standardization

There are studies or books on grammars,
dictionaries, treatises on pronunciation,
styles, and so on, of the H.

There is an established norm for
pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary
which allows variation only within certain
limits.
6. Stability
Diglossia typically persists at least
several centuries, and evidence in
some cases seems to show that it
can last well over a thousand years.
7. Grammar
H has grammatical categories not present
in L and has an inflectional system of
nouns and verbs which is much reduced or
totally absent in L.
 E.g. Standard German has four cases in
the noun; Swiss German has only three
cases in the noun.

8. Lexicon

H includes in its total lexicon technical terms and
learned expressions which have no regular L
equivalents, since the subjects involved are
rarely if ever discussed in pure L.

L includes in its total lexicon popular expressions
and the names of very homely objects or
objects of very localized distribution which have
no regular H equivalents, since the subjects
involved are rarely if ever discussed in pure H.
9. Phonology
The sound systems if H and L constitutes
a single phonological structure of which
the L phonology is the basic system.
 Note: Ferguson states, “It may seem
difficult to offer any generalization on the
relationships between the phonology on H
and L in diglossia in view of the diversity
of data.

Fishman (1972)
Diglossia
Bilingualism
+
–
+
+B +D
+B –D
–
–B +D
–B –D
Examples:
+B +D : Paraguay (Spanish and Guarani)
+B - D : Belgium (German and French)
- B +D : Russian
- B - D : Hypothetical
Overlapping Diglossia and Triglossia
(Mkifili, 1978)

A research on the use of English, Swahili
and local language.
English
Swahili
Local language
Poliglossia (Platt, 1977)
A Research in Malaysia
 Formal English
 Malay
 Mandarin
 Malay-English
 Other Chinese languages
 Colloquial Malay
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