Code (语码): a term which is used to refer to language, speech variety, or dialect. It is more neutral than the others. The neutral term code can be used to refer to any kind of system that two or more people employ for communication.
I. A diglossic situation exists in a society when it has two distinct codes which show clear functional separation; one code is employed in one set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different set.
Diglossia defined by Ferguson,
Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, 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.
II. characteristics of diglossic situation
1. In diglossic situation, there is a “high” variety (H) of language, and a “low” variety (L).
Each variety has its own specialized functions. For example:
a. Arabic situation: classical Arabic (H), regional colloquial varieties (L)
b. In Switzerland: standard German (H), Swiss German (L)
c. In Haiti, Standard French (H), Haitian Creole (L)
d. In Greece, The Katharevousa (H), Dhimotiki, Demotic (L)
In each case, the two varieties have co-existed for a long period; Diglossia appears to be a persistent social and linguistic phenomenon.
2. The two varieties are kept quite apart in their functions; Generally speaking, the H variety is used for formal circumstance, while the L varieties are used for informal circumstance.
a. Do not use an H variety in circumstances calling for an L variety.
b. The H variety is the prestige variety; the L variety lacks prestige.
Associated with this prestige, the H variety is more beautiful, logical and expressive than
the L variety. That‟s why the H variety is deemed appropriate for literary use, for religious purposes and so on.
The natural superiority of the variety is likely to be reinforced by the fact that a considerable body of literature will be found to exist in H variety and almost none in the L variety.
e.g. quotations from classical literature associated with H variety
3. Another importance difference between the H and L varieties is that all children learn the L variety. The H variety is likely to be learned in some kind of formal setting, e.g., in classroom, or as a part of religion and cultural indoctrination.
To some extent, the H variety is taught, whereas the L variety is learned. Teaching requires the availability of grammars, dictionaries, standardized texts and some widely accepted view about the nature of what is being taught and how it is most effectively to be taught. There are usually no comparable grammars, dictionaries and standardized texts for the L variety. 4. The L variety often shows a tendency to borrow learned words form the H variety, particularly when speakers try to use the L variety in more formal ways the result is a certain admixture of H variety vocabulary into the L.
On the other occasions, there may be distinctly different pairs of word in the H and L varieties to refer to very common objects and concepts. Since the domains use of the two varieties do not intersect, there will be and L word for use in L situations and an H word for H situation with no possibility of transferring the one to the other.
III？ Diglossia is a wide spread phenomenon in the world, well attested in both space (e.g. Haitian Creole and standard French) and time (e.g. classical Chinese, modern varieties of Chinese).
People living in a diglossic community do not regard Diglossia as a problem. It becomes a problem only when there is a growth of literacy or when there is a desire to decrease regional and or social barriers, or when a need is seen for a unified national language.
1. In Haiti, Haitian Creole vs. standard French
2. In Creece, the issue of conservative or liberal Greeks
Traditionally, in each country the H variety has been associated with elites, and the L variety
with everyone else. Diglossia reinforces social distinctions; it is used to assert social position and to keep people in their place, particularly people who are not at the upper end of the social hierarchy. Any move to extend the L variety may be a direct threat to those who want to maintain traditional relationships and the existing power structure.
IV. Extended Diglossia
For Fishman, Diglossia is “an enduring societal arrangement, extending at least beyond a three-generation period, such that two „languages‟ each have their secure, phenomenologically
legitimate and widely implemented functions.”
Fishman‟s proposal extends the concept of Diglossia to include bilingual and multilingual situations in which different languages have quite different functions. For example, one language is used in one set of circumstance and the other in an entirely different set and such difference is felt to be normal and proper. For example,
For about three centuries after the Norman Conquest of 1066, English and Norman French co-existed in England in a diglossic situation.
Norman French (H) English (L)
used by government use by lower class
people in upper society informal circumstance
Spanish (H) Guarani (L, an American Indian Language)
official language of government mother tongue of 90% of population
and the medium of education a national language, used in informal
used by government and business circumstance, such as jokes and chat,
transactions, language of the cities language of rural areas Fishman calls this kind of relationship “extended diglossia”, in which Spanish and Norman
French are the H varieties and English and Guaranie are the L varieties.
Bilingualism & Multilingualism
<1> Bilingualism (双语制): the use of at least two languages either by an individual or by a group of speakers, such as the inhabitants of a particular region or a nation.
Bilingual: a person who uses at least two languages with some degree of proficiency. In everyday use bilingual usually means a person who speaks, reads or understands two languages equally well (a balanced bilingual), but a bilingual person usually has a better knowledge of one language than another. For example, a bilingual may:
a. be able to read and write in only one language
b. use each language in different types of situation or domains, e.g. one language at
home and another at work.
c. use each language for talking about school life and the other for talking about
The ability to read and write a second or foreign language does not necessarily imply a degree of bilingualism.
<2>. Multilingualism (多语制): the use of three or more languages by an individual or by a group of speakers such as the inhabitants of a particular region or a nation.
Multilingual: a person who knows and uses three or more languages. Usually, a multilingual does not know all the languages equally well. For example, a multilingual may:
a. speak and understand one language best
b. be able to write in only one
c. use each language in different types of situation / domains, e.g. one language at
home, one at work, and one for shopping
d. use each language for different communicative purposes, e.g. one language for
talking about science, one for religious purposes and one for talking about
<3>. People who are bilingual or multilingual do not necessarily have exactly the same abilities in the language/ varieties. In fact, that kind of parity may be exceptional. As Sridhar says: “Multilingualism, involving balanced command of all the languages in the repertoire, is
rather uncommon. Multilingual have varying degrees of command of different repertoires”.
Multilingual develop competence in each of the codes to the extent that they need it and for the contexts in which each of the languages is used.
2. Bilingualism or multilingualism is normal phenomenon in many parts of the world e.g. Multilingualism exists among the Tukano of the northwest Amozon. (P95)
Among the Siane of New Guinea, it is quite normal for people to know a number of
In many parts of the world people speak a number of languages. They speak them because they need to do so in order to live their life, and their knowledge is pragmatic and instrumental. 4. Bilingual vs. Bi-dialectal, Multilingual vs. Multidialectal
Bilingualism refers to two different languages, while bi-dialect refers to the two dialects of the same language. It is also true of the distinction of multilingualism and multi-dialect. e.g. Bilingualism: Hindi and Urdu, Serbian and Croatian
Bi-dialect: Chinese, Mandarin and Cantonese
It is difficult to distinguish the difference between them, but whether each separate variety is a dialect depends on how one defines dialect. So the bilingual-bidialectal distinction reflects social, cultural and political aspirations or realities rather than linguistic reality.
5. A bilingual or multilingual situation can produce effects on one or more of the languages
a. It leads to loss. E.g. language loss among immigrants
b. It leads to diffusion. Certain features spread from one language to the others as a result
of the contact situation, particularly certain kinds of syntactic features. For example,