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In
sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
, prestige is the level of regard normally accorded a specific
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
or
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
within a
speech community A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the . It is a concept mostly associated with and . Exactly how to define ''speech community'' is debated in the literature. Definitions of spe ...
, relative to other languages or dialects. Prestige
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
are language or dialect families which are generally considered by a society to be the most "correct" or otherwise superior. In many cases, they are the
standard formStandard form may refer to: In mathematics and science *Canonical form *Linear equation#General (or standard) form, Standard form (''Ax'' + ''By'' = ''C'') – a common form of a linear equation *The more common term for normalis ...
of the language, though there are exceptions, particularly in situations of
covert prestige In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
(where a non-standard dialect is highly valued). In addition to dialects and languages, prestige is also applied to smaller linguistic features, such as the
pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful d ...
or usage of words or grammatical constructs, which may not be distinctive enough to constitute a separate dialect. The concept of prestige provides one explanation for the phenomenon of variation in form, among speakers of a language or languages. The presence of prestige dialects is a result of the relationship between the prestige of a group of people and the language that they use. Generally, the language or variety that is regarded as more prestigious in that community is the one used by the more prestigious group. The level of prestige a group has can also influence whether the language that they speak is considered its own language or a dialect (implying that it does not have enough prestige to be considered its own language). Social class has a correlation with the language that is considered more prestigious, and studies in different communities have shown that sometimes members of a lower social class attempt to emulate the language of individuals in higher social classes to avoid how their distinct language would otherwise construct their identity. The relationship between language and identity construction as a result of prestige influences the language used by different genders and races. Sociolinguistic prestige is especially visible in situations where two or more distinct languages are used, and in
diverse
diverse
, socially stratified urban areas, in which there are likely to be speakers of different languages and/or dialects interacting often. The result of language contact depends on the power relationship between the languages of the groups that are in contact. The prevailing view among contemporary linguists is that, regardless of perceptions that a dialect or language is "better" or "worse" than its counterparts, when dialects and languages are assessed "on purely linguistic grounds, all languages—and all dialects—have equal merit". Additionally, which varieties, registers or features will be considered more prestigious depends on audience and context. There are thus the concepts of ''overt'' and ''covert'' prestige. Overt prestige is related to standard and "formal" language features, and expresses power and status; covert prestige is related more to
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
and often
patois ''Patois'' (, pl. same or ) is speech or language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect ...
, and expresses solidarity, community and
group identity A group is a number of people or things that are located, gathered, or classed together. Groups of people * Cultural group, a group whose members share the same cultural identity * Ethnic group, a group whose members share the same ethnic identi ...
more than authority.


Standard varieties and covert prestige

Prestige varieties are those that are regarded mostly highly within a society. As such, the standard language, the form promoted by authorities—usually governmental or from those in power—and considered "correct" or otherwise superior, is often the prestige variety. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, such as
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
, in which
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people tha ...
is widely used in
mass media Mass media refers to a diverse array of media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement fo ...
aimed at international audiences, while Literary Arabic (also known as Standard Arabic) is a more prestigious form. Prestige varieties do not exhibit features, grammatically speaking, which prove them superior in terms of logic, efficacy or aesthetics. With certain exceptions, they are the language varieties of the prestigious social classes. Therefore, the prestige variety of a given language community or nation-state has symbolic significance and may act as an instrument of political power. The notion of a
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called an isolect or lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include language ...
in a
speech community A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the . It is a concept mostly associated with and . Exactly how to define ''speech community'' is debated in the literature. Definitions of spe ...
is related to the prestige of the languages spoken in the community. In general, "greater prestige tends to be attached to the notion of the standard, since it can function in higher domains, and has a written form." While there are some counterexamples, such as Arabic, "prestigious and standard varieties end tocoincide to the extent that the two terms can be used interchangeably." In countries like the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, where
citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...

citizen
s speak many different languages and come from a variety of
national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
and
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
s, there is a " folk linguistic" belief that the most prestigious dialect is the single standard dialect of
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
that all people should speak.
Linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...
Rosina Lippi-Green Rosina Lippi-Green (née Rosina Lippi; born January 14, 1956) is an American writer. She writes under the names Rosina Lippi-Green (linguistics), Rosina Lippi (literary and contemporary fiction), and Sara Donati (historical fiction). Biography L ...
believes that this belief in a standard language defends and rationalizes the preservation of the
social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structure In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergence, emergen ...
, since it equates "nonstandard" or "substandard" language with "nonstandard or substandard human beings." Linguists believe that no
variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
of language is inherently better than any other, for every language serves its purpose of allowing its users to communicate. This is because every variety of a language is systematic and rule governed. These rules do not contain a hierarchy, thus certain varieties—linguistically—are not placed above another. The terms and conditions of prestige assigned to a language variety are subject to change depending on speaker, situation and context. A
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
or variety which is considered prestigious in one context, will not carry the same status in another. The relative status of language varies according to audience, situation and other contextual elements such as geographic location.
Covert prestige In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
refers to relatively high value placed on a non-standard form of language.


Causes

Different languages and dialects are accorded prestige based upon factors, including "rich literary heritage, high degree of language modernization, considerable international standing, or the prestige of its speakers". These, and other attributes and factors contribute to how the language is viewed as being of high prestige, leaving a language or dialect with few or none of these attributes to be considered to be of low prestige. "Language is intertwined with culture," therefore there is often a strong correlation between the prestige of a group of people and the prestige accorded to the language they speak, as linguist Laurie Bauer's description of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
's prestige exemplifies this phenomenon: This phenomenon is not limited to English-speaking populations. In
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
, multiple languages were considered to be of high prestige at some time or another, including "
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
as the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' and as the language of the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
; and the 17th-18th century of the court culture".
Walt Wolfram Walt Wolfram (; born February 15, 1941) is an American sociolinguist at North Carolina State University, specializing in social and ethnic dialects of American English. He was one of the early pioneers in the study of urban African American Englis ...
, a professor of linguistics at
North Carolina State University North Carolina State University (NC State) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business ...
, notes that he "can't think of any situations in the United States where low-prestige groups have high-prestige language systems". Wolfram further emphasizes this in his PBS documentary "Do You Speak American?", and explains how there is a very clear hierarchy in which "modern American English" is at the top, and
African American Vernacular English African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, ), also referred to as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE), occasionally as Ebonics (a colloquial, controversial Controversy is a state of prolonged public ...
(AAVE) is at the bottom, because AAVE is seldom considered “standard” English in academic settings. The education system is one of the primary agents in emphasizing a "standard" way of speaking. For example, Wolfram's documentary also shows how speakers of AAVE are often corrected by teachers, since it has linguistic features that are different from what has been deemed the "standard." Criticism of AAVE in schools by teachers not only insults the students that speak AAVE, but those insults also put the individuals who taught these students how to speak, such as their family members, in a subordinate position. In turn, this further reinforces stratification of social groups in a linguistic and social context. In schools around the world that teach English, speaking "proper" English is emphasized, even if other varieties are equally valid and able to communicate the same ideas. In a school in Mumbai, India, there is a large emphasis placed on speaking "good English." Thus, proficiency is not determined by ability to convey ideas, but rather the grammatical adherence of the speaker to the rules used in the "standard" English variety, and speaking English that way. By nature, this is a prescriptivist way of teaching a language, and "suggest that children who do not speak Standard American English (SAE) will find acceptance and validation in the schools." This not only perpetuates the idea of a "correct" way of speaking in the classroom, but this subordination extends well outside of the classroom. Many films and TV shows (especially children's TV shows) use different language varieties for different characters, which constructs their identity in particular ways. For example, the protagonists of
Disney The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney (), is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios complex in Burbank, California California is a U.S. st ...

Disney
animated films tend to speak Standard American English, while minor characters or antagonists are more likely to speak with other accents. This is true even when characters would not logically speak English, as in the film ''
Aladdin Aladdin ( ; ar, علاء الدين, ', , ATU 561, ‘Aladdin') is a folk tale most probably of Middle Eastern origin. Despite not being part of the original text of ''The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights)'', it is on ...
'', where the title character
Aladdin Aladdin ( ; ar, علاء الدين, ', , ATU 561, ‘Aladdin') is a folk tale most probably of Middle Eastern origin. Despite not being part of the original text of ''The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights)'', it is on ...
, his love interest
Jasmine Jasmine ( taxonomic name ''Jasminum'' ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification# ...
, and Jasmine's father have American accents, but several other characters do not. Associating the American accent with sympathetic or prestigious characters in children's TV shows/movies can have negative implications, contributing to the formation of stereotypes and biases. One of the primary examples of the debate of prestige within the media is the Oakland ebonics controversy of 1996. Illustrating the pervasiveness of public views on socio-educational issues in relation to language diversity, the Oakland, California school board came to a resolution recognizing Ebonics within public education. This proposition recognized Ebonics as a language system in attempts for the city to receive public funding for bilingual situations. Heavy debate arose amongst members of congress, newscasters, and other commentators with relatively no linguistics knowledge. The debate was extremely controversial, with beliefs stemming from the same beliefs that govern morality, religion, and ethics. Similar to the beliefs that govern these areas, the debate on Ebonics was believed to be inflexible. The discussion "surfaced foundational beliefs about language and language diversity and exposed an alternative, non-mainstream set of beliefs about language and language variation.”


Language attitudes

Prestige influences whether a language variety is considered a
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
or a dialect. In discussing definitions of language,
Dell Hymes Dell Hathaway Hymes (June 7, 1927 in Portland, Oregon – November 13, 2009 in Charlottesville, Virginia) was a linguist, Sociolinguistics, sociolinguist, anthropologist, and folkloristics, folklorist who established disciplinary foundations for t ...
wrote that "sometimes two communities are said to have the same, or different, languages on the grounds of
mutual intelligibility In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
, or lack thereof", but alone, this definition is often insufficient. Different language varieties in an area exist along a
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
, and moving
geographically Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person to ...

geographically
often means a change in the local variety. This continuum means that despite the fact that
standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
and
standard Dutch Dutch is a West Germanic language spoken by about 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referre ...
are not mutually intelligible, the speech of people living near the
border Borders are boundaries of or legal s, such as s, , , and other . Borders are established through agreements between political or social entities that control those areas; the creation of these agreements is called . Some borders—such as mos ...

border
between
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
and the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
will more closely resemble that of their neighbors across the border than the standard languages of their respective home countries. Even so, speakers near the border would describe themselves as speaking a variety of their respective standard languages, and the evolution of these dialects tends to mirror that of the standard languages as well. That they are classified as such reflects the fact that "language differences are not only marks of differential group membership, but also powerful triggers of group attitudes". Such fuzziness has resulted in the
aphorism An aphorism (from Ancient Greek, Greek ἀφορισμός: ''aphorismos'', denoting 'delimitation', 'distinction', and 'definition') is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed do ...
" A language is a dialect with an army and navy." That is, speakers of some language variety with political and social power are viewed as having a distinct language, while "'dialect' is ..a term that suggests lower-class or rural speech". A
canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geo ...
example of this is the
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also re ...

Scandinavian languages
, including
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
, and
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
, where language differences "constitute barriers to but do not wholly block communication", but are considered distinct languages because they are spoken in different
countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

countries
.


Social class

While some differences between dialects are
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...

region
al in nature, there are also
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...

social
causes for differences in dialects. Very often, the "public prestige dialect of the elite in a stratified community differs from the dialect(s) of the non-elite strata (
working class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via waged or salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation of workers by collar colorCo ...
and other)". In fact, in an article which in part tried to motivate the study of
sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
, Raven McDavid wrote that "the importance of language as a mirror of culture can be demonstrated by dialect differences in American English". Thus the relation between the way speakers use a language and their social status is a long recognized tool in sociolinguistics. In 1958, one of the earliest studies of the relationship between social differences and dialect differences was published by
John GumperzJohn Joseph Gumperz (January 9, 1922 – March 29, 2013) was an American linguist and academic. Gumperz was, for most of his career, a professor at the University of California#REDIRECT University of California {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R f ...
, who studied the speech patterns in
Khalapur Khalapur is a town and tehsil in Raigad district Raigad District, is a district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary great ...
, a small, highly stratified
village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena ...

village
in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
. In all, the village has 31
caste Caste is a form of social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on Socioeconomic status, socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, Race (human categorization), race, educati ...
s, ranging from
Brahmin Brahmin (; sa, ब्राह्मण, brāhmaṇa) are a varna Varna may refer to: Places Europe * Varna, Bulgaria, a large city in Bulgaria. ** Varna Province **Varna Municipality **Gulf of Varna **Lake Varna *Vahrn, or Varna, a munic ...

Brahmin
s and
Rajput Rajput (from ''raja-putra'', "son of a king") is a large multi-component cluster of castes, kin bodies, and local groups, sharing social status and ideology of genealogical descent originating from the . The term Rajput covers various clans ...

Rajput
s at the top, to
Chamar Chamar is a dalit Dalit (from sa, दलित, dalita meaning "broken/scattered", hi, दलित, dalit, same meaning) is a name for people belonging to the lowest caste in India, characterised as "untouchable". Dalits were exclud ...
s and
Bhangi Chuhra, also known as Bhanghi and Balmiki, is a Dalit Dalit (from sa, दलित, dalita meaning "broken/scattered", hi, दलित, dalit, same meaning) is a name for people belonging to the lowest stratum castes in India, previously ...
s at the bottom, and 90% of the overall population was
Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as ...

Hindu
, with the remaining 10%
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Muslim
. Gumperz observed that the different castes were distinguished both
phonologically Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of ling ...

phonologically
and , with each caste having a
vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed la ...
specific to their
subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, ...
. Remarkably, the speech differences between Hindus and Muslims "are of the same order as those between individual touchable castes and certainly much less important than the variation between touchables and untouchables". Gumperz also observed that the lower prestige groups sought to imitate the higher prestige speech patterns and that over time, it had caused the
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...
of the prestige away from the regional standard, as higher prestige groups sought to differentiate themselves from lower prestige groups. He concluded that in determining speech patterns in this
community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense of place (geography), plac ...

community
, "the determining factor seems to be informal friendship contacts" rather than work contacts. An example of this was also observed in a study in Madrid, Spain, where
Latin American Spanish The different varieties of the Spanish language Spanish ( or , ) is a Romance languages, Romance language of the Indo-European language family that evolved from colloquial spoken Latin in the Iberian Peninsula. Today, it is a world language, gl ...
-speakers noticed that certain features of their Spanish were evaluated negatively by local speakers. Spanish varieties spoken in Latin American countries have linguistic differences from the way many locals in Madrid speak. Their use of Latin American Spanish is associated with “symbolic and monetary capital (such as social class and ethnicity).” The study asserted that “To be accepted, therefore, the speakers have to “correct” these “errors” and “adapt” to the local variety of Spanish, which is considered the model to follow. In other words, to be acknowledged as full participants in their respective communities, these participants have to sound like locals.” Thus, social class plays a role in determining prestige, impacting the way that Latin American Spanish is acknowledged. One notable example of the relationship between dialect and social stratification in English is
William Labov William Labov ( ; born December 4, 1927) is an United States, American linguist, widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics. He has been described as "an enormously original and influential figure who has c ...
's 1966 study of the variable pronunciation of ''r'' in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
. Labov went to three New York City
department store A department store is a retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics) ...
s that catered to three clearly delineated
socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies social progress, progress, economic stagnation ...
groups— (high),
Macy's Macy's (originally R. H. Macy & Co.) is an American chain founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy Rowland Hussey Macy Sr. (August 30, 1822 – March 29, 1877) was an American businessman who founded the department store chain R. H. Macy and Comp ...

Macy's
(middle), and
S. Klein S. Klein On The Square, or simply S. Klein, was a popular priced department store chain based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in th ...
(low)—and studied how their employees pronounced the phrase "fourth floor". His results demonstrated that the employees at Saks pronounced ''r'' most often, Macy's employees pronounced ''r'' less often, and at S. Klein, seventy-nine percent of the respondents said no ''r'' at all. Another trend Labov noticed was that at all three of the stores, but Macy's in particular, when prompted to say "fourth floor" a second time, employees were much more likely to pronounce the ''r''. Labov attributed his findings to the perceived prestige of each dialect. He noted that New York City's "dropped 'r' has its origins in posh British speech", but after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, "with the loss of Britain's imperial status 'r'-less British speech ceased to be regarded as 'prestige speech'". In 1966, when Labov performed his study, pronouncing words like ''car'' and ''guard'' with ''r'' was then considered an element of prestige speech. This resulted in
middle-class The middle class is a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an an ...
employees, once made conscious of having to pronounce "fourth floor", altering their pronunciation in order to match that of the high prestige dialect. The prestige given to ''r'' was also evident in the
hypercorrection In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language ...
observed in lower-class speech. Knowing that ''r''-pronunciation was a prestigious trait, many of the lower-class speakers in another Labov study—in which speakers were asked to read from word lists—added ''-r'' to words that did not have an ''r'' at all. The difference between this study and the "fourth floor" study was the fact that speakers were closely monitoring their speech, not speaking spontaneously, and were thus careful to add ''r'' in an attempt to mimic a higher social class. Another prime example of covert prestige is within popular culture. The pervasiveness of hip hop music and its usage of AAVE has coined many widely used terms. Usage of AAVE has created a certain social capital, or clout, in certain social contexts. Contrastingly, in educational or hierarchical settings, usage of this variety can result in negative connotations. Due to this, practitioners are often perceived as having minimal academic prowess or being lowly educated. They can also be associated with poverty or low economic means. These inherent stigmas and biases impede the AAVE speaker from academic, social, and economic success.


Gender and covert prestige

Non-standard dialects are usually considered low-prestige, but in some situations dialects "stigmatized by the education system still enjoy a ''covert'' prestige among working-class men for the very reason that they are considered incorrect". These situations occur when the speaker wants to gain recognition, acceptance, or
solidarity Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies creating a psychological sense of unity of groups or classes, which rejects the class conflict Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class ...
with a specific—and non-prestigious—group of people, or to signal to other speakers their identification with that group. The idea of covert prestige was first introduced by William Labov, who noticed that even speakers who used non-standard dialects often believed that their own dialect was "bad" or "inferior". Labov realized that there must be some underlying reason for their use of the dialect, which he identified as a signal of group identity. One example is a 1998 study on the use of word-final ''-ing'' versus ''-in'' among college
fraternity A fraternity (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repub ...
men in the United States. The fraternity men used "-in" rather than "-ing," from which the author concluded that the men used ''-in'' to demonstrate what they saw as working-class behavioral traits, such as 'hard-working' and 'casual,' thus creating a specific identity for themselves. In a study by Elaine Chun, it was noted that even though the use of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is not viewed as the standard in many American schools, and thus is often corrected by teachers, there are some instances where non-African Americans use AAVE to construct their identity in a particular way and enjoy covert prestige in the African American speech community. The study pointed out that "mainstream uses of AAVE 'slang' are especially prevalent in social circles that desire to create and project a heterosexual masculinity," and included examples of a Korean-American student using AAVE to gain recognition/acceptance in the African American speech community. This underscores that the relative status of language varies according to audience. Likewise, in studies of the speech patterns in
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
,
Peter Trudgill Peter Trudgill, British Academy, FBA (; born 7 November 1943) is an English Sociolinguistics, sociolinguist, academic and author. He was born in Norwich, England and grew up in the area of Thorpe St Andrew. He attended the City of Norwich School ...
observed that more working class women spoke the standard dialect than men. Farida Abu-Haidar performed a similar study in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
of prestige in the Arabic language, after which she concluded that in Baghdadi Arabic, women are more conscious of prestige than are men. Other areas in which this has been observed include
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
and
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
. As explanation, Trudgill suggests that for men, there is covert prestige associated with speaking the working class dialect. In fact, he observed men claiming to speak a ''less'' prestigious dialect than that which they actually spoke. According to this interpretation then, "women's use of prestige features simply conforms to the ordinary sociolinguistic order, while men deviate from what is expected." Elizabeth Gordon, in her study of New Zealand, suggested instead that women used higher prestige forms because of the association of sexual
immorality Immorality is the violation of moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as L ...
with lower-class
women A woman is an adult female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the Sperm, male gamete during sexual reproduction. A female ...

women
. Whatever the cause, women across many cultures seem more likely than men to modify their speech towards the prestige dialect. Though women use prestige dialects more than men, the same gender preference for prestige languages does not seem to exist. A study of diglossic societies by John Angle and Sharlene Hesse-Biber showed that the poorer men were more likely to speak the prestige language than were poorer women, even though women were more particularly "drawn to the language of the rich." One explanation put forth for this is that poorer men are more likely to have the means of acquiring a second language than poorer women as a result of having "greater exposure" and "greater economic motivation."


Language contact

When different language varieties come into contact, a variety of relationships can form between the two, all typically influenced by prestige. When they have equal power or prestige, they form
adstratum In linguistics, a stratum (Latin for "layer") or strate is a language that influences or is influenced by another through language contact, contact. A substratum or substrate is a language that has lower power or prestige than another, while a s ...
, as exemplified by
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
and
Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture and religion * Norse m ...
, which shared elements with each other more or less equally. Far more common is for the two languages to have an unequal power relationship, as is the case of many colonial language contact situations. Languages that have a higher status in relation to a certain group often manifest themselves in word borrowing. One example is in English, which features many French words, as a result of the historical prestige of French. Another potential result of such contact relationships includes the creation of a
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lan ...

pidgin
or eventually creole through
nativization Nativization is the process through which in the virtual absence of native speakers, a language undergoes new phonological Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the a ...
. In the case of pidgins and creoles, it is usually noted that the low prestige language provides the phonology while the high prestige language provides the
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, pra ...

lexicon
and
grammatical structure In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
. In addition to forming a new language, known as a creole,
language contact Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages or varieties interact and influence each other. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics. When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for th ...
can result in changes, such as
language convergence A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language A spoken language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), g ...
,
language shift Language shift, also known as language transfer or language replacement or language assimilation, is the process whereby a speech community Arnold Lakhovsky, ''The Conversation'' (circa 1935) A speech community is a group of people who share a s ...
or
language death In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
. Language convergence is when two languages have been exposed for a long period of time and they begin to have more properties in common. Language shift is when a speaker shifts from speaking a lower prestige dialect to a higher prestige dialect. Language death can happen in many ways, one of which is when speakers of a language die off, and there are no new generations learning to speak this language. The intensity of the contact between the two languages and their relative prestige levels influence the degree to which a language experiences lexical borrowing and changes to the
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
, phonology,
syntax In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...

syntax
, and overall structure of the language.


Language structure

When two languages with an asymmetrical power relationship come into contact, such as through
colonization Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their—or their ancestors'—former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such l ...

colonization
or in a
refugee A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person Forced displacement (also forced migration) is an involuntary or coerced movement of a person or people away from their home or home region In geography, regions are areas that are broa ...

refugee
situation, the creole that results is typically largely based on the prestige language; as noted above, linguists have observed that the low-prestige language usually provides the phonology while the high-prestige language provides the lexicon and grammatical structure. Over time, continued contact between the creole and the prestige language may result in decreolization, in which the creole begins to more closely resemble the prestige language. Decreolization thus creates a
creole continuumA post-creole continuum (or simply creole continuum) is a dialect continuum of Variety (linguistics), varieties of a creole language between those most and least similar to the superstrate language (that is, a closely related language whose speakers ...
, ranging from an
acrolectA post-creole continuum (or simply creole continuum) is a dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In ...
(a version of the creole that is very similar to the prestige language), to
mesolectA post-creole continuum (or simply creole continuum) is a dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In ...
s (decreasingly similar versions), to the
basilectA post-creole continuum (or simply creole continuum) is a dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In ...
(the most “conservative" creole). An example of decreolization described by Hock and Joseph is African American Vernacular English (AAVE), in which older, more conservative versions preserve
features Feature may refer to: Computing * Feature (CAD), could be a hole, pocket, or notch * Feature (computer vision), could be an edge, corner or blob * Feature (software design) is an intentional distinguishing characteristic of a software item ( ...
such as the completive marker ''done'' while newer, less conservative versions do not. Some instances of contact between languages with different prestige levels have resulted in diglossia, a phenomenon in which a community uses a high prestige language or dialect in certain situations, usually for
newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments ...

newspaper
s, in
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...

literature
, on , for religious ceremonies, and on
television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Gre ...

television
and the
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device ...

radio
, but uses a low prestige language or dialect for other situations, often in conversation in the home or in
letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
s,
comic strip A comic strip is a sequence of drawings, often cartoons A cartoon is a type of illustration An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digi ...
s, and in
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
. Linguist Charles A. Ferguson's 1959 article "Diglossia" listed the following examples of diglossic societies: in the Middle East and North Africa,
Standard Arabic Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or Modern Written Arabic (shortened to MWA), terms used mostly by Western linguists, is the variety of Standard language, standardized, Literary language, literary Arabic that developed in the Arab world in the late ...
and vernacular Arabics; in Greece, Katharevousa and Dhimotiki; in Switzerland, Swiss Standard German and Swiss German; and in Haiti, Standard French and Haitian Creole. In most African countries, a European language serves as the official, prestige language (Standard French, English, Portuguese language, Portuguese), while local languages (Wolof language, Wolof, Bambara language, Bambara, Yoruba language, Yoruba) or creoles (Ivorian French, Nigerian English) serve as everyday languages of communication. In diglossic societies, the prestigious language tends to conservatively resist change over time while the low-prestige language, the local vernacular, undergoes normal language change. For instance, Latin, the high prestige language of Europe for many centuries, underwent minimal change while the everyday low prestige spoken languages evolved significantly. If, however, the two languages are spoken freely, the prestige language may undergo
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
ization and begin to incorporate vernacular features. An example is Sanskrit, an ancient prestige language that has incorporated the vernacular pronunciations of and for word-initial ''y-'' and ''v-''. The prestige language may also change under the influence of specific regional dialects in a process known as regionalisation, regionalization. For example, in medieval times, Ecclesiastical Latin developed different forms in countries such as Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Catalonia, as well as other Roman Catholic nations, notably in pronunciation – see Latin regional pronunciation. Some of these differences were minor, such as ''c'' before ''i'' and ''e'' being pronounced in Italy but in France, but after English underwent the Great Vowel Shift between 1200 and 1600, the vowel system in England became nearly unrecognizable to its European ecclesiastic counterparts.


See also

*Conservative (language) *Decreolization *Language planning and policy in Singapore *List of prestige dialects *Raciolinguistics *Vergonha *


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * {{refend


External links


Do You Speak American?
Sociolinguistics Language varieties and styles Social status Linguistic discrimination Linguistics terminology Sociological terminology