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Standard languages in media

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Agurtzane Elordui

on 6 November 2017

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Transcript of Standard languages in media

Standard languages in media
Language standardization in Europe is linked to the mass media in a number of complex ways.

Historical processes of language standardization in Europe has a close relationship with the mass print media (Hjarvard 2004, Buchstaller 2008, Milroy and Milroy 2012)
What are standard languages?
Standard is taken to be a linguistic reflex of high social class:
the assumption is that ‘standard language’ is

“educated people” use
when they write (in accordance with grammatical, lexical and orthographic norms)
what people at
the top of the social hierarchy use
when they speak (according to the grammatical, lexical and phonological norms)
A common social-evaluative gloss:

‘standard’ speech variants or speech styles ‘have high overt prestige’

‘non-standard’ counterparts are socially stigmatized’
What are standard languages?
The problems of definition of 'standard'
• Is class that stable?

• Is 'educated' a reasonable proxy for class?

Social change is making these problems of interpretation even more acute

Milroy and Milroy (2012) and Milroy (2006)
between '
’ and ‘
process of linguistic standardization

Standardization consists of the imposition of uniformity upon a class of objects so that ‘the most important property of a standard variety of a language is uniformity and invariance
(Milroy 2006)

‘Good’ and ‘bad’ news about standardization
(Milroy 2006, Milroy& Milroy 2012: 18-23)
Milroy equates the drive to standardize language with the drive to standardize weights and measures, and they suggests
there are social advantages in the process.
It is also clear that there are
restrictive, judgmental and discriminatory aspects of standard language ideology
that are operative in ‘standard language cultures’
‘Good’ and ‘bad’ news about standardization
(Milroy 2006, Milroy& Milroy 2012: 18-23)
There has been reduced the gap between working class and middle-class norms,
so we should expect an expanded ‘standard language’use.

the new middle class is likely to contain people whose speech spans a wider range of styles than the old middle class.

The value associations of ‘standard’ and ‘ non-standard’ speech are weaker and less significant in late modern age.

In late modern age
Language, Ideology, Media and Social Change
Nicolas Coupland (2010)

Coupland (2010: 64) people at the top of social scale will have become more sociolinguistically “omnivorous” they “consume” (they accept and possibly even positively value) a range of language varieties.

: There are greater demands on more speakers to self-present as ‘socially attractive’ more than 'competent’.

Mass media, social change and meaning of dialect
Coupland 2010: 69-76
Sociologists characterize Late Modernity since the 60's as anti-authoritarian, individualistic and democratic ideology
Since the 1960's TV channels have often represented structured urban speech communities:
Soap operas:

London (East Enders)

Manchester (Coronation Street)
British radio has also contributed
to a sociolinguistic stratification effect
, in the hierarchy of “serious” to “popular” broadcasting roles.
They contribute to a sociolinguistic stratification effect:
'serious' news readers of BBC 3 and 4: Conservative RP

'popular' Radio 1, the youth oriented pop and rock BBC Channel: RP is only non-functional but risible
Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)
Each one is easy to define in a series of reductive social categorisations:
“the tall, serious, posh male judge,”
“the sharply critical London-sounding female judge,”
“the tall, avuncular, London-sounding male judge,”
“the wacky, short, second-language, Italian-sounding male judge.”
An example of sociolinguistic bricolage
Strictly BBC
Kristiansen (2008) suggests that the development of European standard languages in Late Modernity can be characterized by two alternative developments:

Linguistic de-standarization
- Demotisation

weaken the status of the traditional standard languages
which emerged, became codified and spread throughout in the age of modernity

It is development whereby the established
standard language loses its position as the one and only ‘best language’

: is a type of value leveling that washes out status meaning formerly linked to ‘standard’ and ‘non standard’ varieties.

a development would be equal to a radical weakening and eventual abandonment of the standard ideology’ itself

Norway case
it is known for the strong position of dialects in everyday and even formal situations (Sandoy 2011)

It is a shift to more demotic (Demotic <Greek for "of the people" or "folkish"))
the standard ideology stays intact
while the valoration of ways of speaking changes refers to continuing investment in a standard or best variety of speech
but where a formerly popular or more vernacular variety rises to take the place of the earlier ‘standard’

Danish evidence:
low Copenhagen speech indexes an affective, straightforward, self-assured, interesting, cool,.....persona’ a successful media personality (Kritiansen 2011, 2016)

, in special south-western Germany according to Peter Auer and Helmut Spiekerman's work (2011)

Auer, Peter & Spiekerman, Helmut
(2011) Demostisation of the standard variety or destandarisation? The changing status of German in late modernity (with special reference to south-western Germany). In Kristiansen, T & Coupland, N. (eds.)

Bell, Alan
(1983) Broadcast news as a language standard. International Journal of the Sociology of language 40: 29-42.

Coupland, Nicolas (2010) Language, Ideology, Media and Social Change. Performing the Self. SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature 24. Ed. Karen Junod and Didier Maillat. Tübingen: Narr, 2010.

Garret, Peter, Selleck, Charlotte and Coupland Nikolas
(2011) English in England and Wales: Multiple ideologies. In Kristiansen, T & Couplan (eds.) Standard languages and Language Standards in a Changing Europe. Oslo: Novus Press

Kristiansen, Tore & Coupland, Nikolas (eds.) (2011)
Standard languages and Language Standards in a Changing Europe. Oslo: Novus Press

Kristiansen, Tore (2016)

Contemporary Standard Language Change. Weakening or strengthening?. Taal&Tongval VOL 68, NO 2, 2016

Milroy, James & Milroy Lesley
(2012) Authority in Language. Investigating Standard English. Abingdon/NewYork: Routledge


1. What is the place of media in the process of de-standarization in Norway?

Helge Sandøy (2011) ‘Language culture in Norway: a tradition of questioning standard language norms’
1990: Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) monopoly of radio an television: intermediary for the two standard spoken languages (Bokmail and Nynorsk)
Language policy provided by the state
Great tolerance was practiced towards dialectal pronunciation of standard languages: to give the standard a regional stamp.
Alternative radios and TVs since the 1990s: more informal style
Regional features have been more and more accepted, even preferred
Extensive de-standarisation
SMS and Internet's written language its has become quite normal to use dialect
or dialect spelling forms

In writting, most in Bokmal, prestigious variants are stylistically obsolete and abandoned in the largest norwegian newspaper
in the 1990s
Language, Ideology, Media and Social Change
Nicolas Coupland (2010)
.., there are reasons to suppose that the
conventional class-based sociolinguistic conceptualization
of “standard” and “non-standard” speech

is becoming out-dated
; ....
N. Coupland 2010
The “superiority” of RP is often
a two-edged sword
social evaluative terms
Nicolas Coupland's argument
My argument is that, if we assume that Britain and not-too dissimilar countries have been experiencing social change of the above sorts, then
it is inconceivable that language use and language ideologies have not been reshaped by it
(Coupland 2009: 59)
...our understanding and analysis of “
standard language
” and the complementary concept of “
” might need to be adjusted in the light of ongoing social change
Back to traditional mass media
How pervasive and persuasive standard language ideology is actually?
We know that speakers of linguistic varieties conventionally called “non-standard” sometimes do judge themselves inferior to speakers of varieties called “standard”, New York City as “a sink of negative prestige”

In Britain, Received Pronunciation (RP) is often felt to be a prestigious way of speaking, and non-RP speakers sometimes even find RP intimidating.
But there are also domains where speaking RP is impossible or marginal or even risible
Scottish and Welsh people attribute significantly more
prestige and social attractiveness to their “home” varieties
, while attributing
less prestige and social attractiveness to varieties labelled “standard English
” and “the Queen’s English” than many other groups do.
Prestige differences according to regions and age
Younger informants
, for example,
regularly attributed more positive values to conventionally low-prestige varieties
than older informants
did, and
this might indicate generational shift over time
(as opposed to intrinsically age-graded difference).
the Norwegian and Danish case with your own language in media.
Write down some differences and similarities
by taking into account some examples in actual media usages where we should find the use of the standard (news programs, documentaries, media readings,...
Send the examples to the Forum
on Destandarisation and Demotisation
2.2. Reading

Tore Kristiansen 2016.
Contemporary Standard Language Change. Weakening or strengthening?
...no one would dispute that the process has basically been about the
standard language growing stronger
and stronger
, at the expense of
other varieties
which in the process became
increasingly marginalized
in terms of
and denigrated in terms of
This kind of strengthening can be seen as
characteristic of the era of ‘modernity’ and ‘nation-state building’ in Europe' (94pp)
In recent years ...
changes in the nature of standard languages (SL) and standard language ideologies (SLI)
under the radically new socio-historical
conditions that we call ‘late modernity’

and ‘globalization’
less obviously
pertinent in the many European contexts where issues of language standards and standardization still on the agenda of movements for political independence or autonomy (Trudgill, 2004),
it is manifest
in several countries which have been
politically independent for centuries
: Denmark (94 pp)
It is a basic assumption of
the approach that
change in ideology is a main factor behind change in
, and that
the idea of ‘best language’ is a main factor in language standardization
DANISH CASE. Overview of development of Danish Standard Language
Local dialects
were spoken by the majority of the population
until after World War II
, and that incipient changes accelerated in the 1960s and 1970s.
By 1980, the traditional dialects were moribun
, meaning that young people no longer used them in their peer groups.
The regional differences

which persist and are recognized as regional by people are of
prosodic nature (accent, intonation,...)
not only High Copenhagen features (Rigsdank or CONSERVATIVE Danish)
. The
high vitality of Low Copenhagen speech (working class speech) in terms of general spread
is a crucial aspect of the radical linguistic ‘Copenhagenization’ of Denmark from the 1960s onwards:
oung people use more Low than High features (that is Københavnsk or MODERN Danish)
Summary and conclusions
The Language-ideological constitution of Danish adolescents
Danish adolescents consistently exhibit
two very different language-related value systems

on whether subjects are aware or not
that they are involved in giving away their ‘language attitudes’.

when passing
from consciously offered to subconsciously offered attitudes
the adolescents inverse the value hierarchization of the linguistic variation
which is most
obviously relevant to processes of social identifications
in their everyday life
The informants of the project were students (9th graders, 16 years old)
A list of variety names
local varieties
come out
in the top
position, followed by the variety of local big city and
rigsdank in third position
MODERN is down in ideology
Evaluate audio-recorded speakers (Local, conservative and modern)
- a consistent
bottom position for local
-a weakening of traditional ideological support of CONSERVATIVE speech
- Modern as 'dynamic' as 'best language'
subconscious language-ideological constitution

of contemporary Danish adolescents and
show a picture in harmony with the change in use
the fall of ‘the dialects’ we find a consistent bottom position for LOCAL
the rise of MODERN we find CONSERVATIVE’s status as ‘best language’ to be seriously challenged by MODERN-coloured speech.
Summary and conclusions
CONSERVATIVE with superiority values (intelligent, conscientious, etc.), and MODERN as a ‘dynamic’ language
is something the adolescents certainly do
not acquire in the school context, nor from public discourse more generally
Summary and conclusions
Language-related experiences resulting from
exposure to broadcast media appear the only possible explanation for the generally shared association of MODERN with dynamic values
(selfassured, fascinating, etc.).

It is hard to see how contemporary young
Danes’ sense of MODERN speech can be understood as anything else than
a media-induced ‘intuitive feel’
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