Why does diglossia occur in some communities?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Diglossia occurs when there are two different languages or dialects spoken within a single community. Usually one of these is given more prestige than the other, which is often associated with low socioeconomic status. An example of this is the development of creole dialects in the New World alongside "conventional" European languages. To elaborate further, in the Caribbean, while French or English might be the standard or official language, the one that is used in media, government communication, and (sometimes) in schools, most people speak a dialect of that language, as in Haitian Creole. Obviously, diglossia often (but not always) develops out of socioeconomic situations. Elites in Haiti, to further the example, would be more closely connected to France and would be more likely to speak standard French. This phenomenon was not just present in colonial contexts. It occurs everywhere in the world, even, perhaps especially, in Europe itself, where moves toward nationalism tended to privilege one "standard" or "high" dialect of a language over others. 


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