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Standard languages in media

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Agurtzane Elordui

on 16 November 2016

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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) differ between 'standard’ 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
Find the evidences of this change in Coupland's reading
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)
East Enders BBC
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
Dialect on TV is '
not real'

Contrastive dialect semiosis
is in fact the basis of a particularly striking recent trend in British TV

Contrastive bricolage effect
: complex but condensed admixture of linguistic styles and meanings that the media uniquely provide

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 2001)

, 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

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
In 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)
TV in particular has put
mediated linguistic diversity in front of the viewing public
far more pervasively and with
much richer and more saturated indexical loading
than face-to-face social reality can achieve.

TV representations
have confirmed, but also challenged, social stereotypes attaching to dialect varieties in Britain
, in highly complex patterns
They have imaged close-knit, working class communities sharing lifestyles, social problems,hardship and resilience narratives, each of them powerfully articulating a
distinctive sense of place

through voice

TV shows of this sort have
consolidated regionalised versions of urban working class lifestyles
ways of speaking
, in stark
opposition to the old institutional voice of public broadcasting
.., there are reasons to suppose that the
conventional class-based sociolinguistic conceptualisation of “standard” and “non-standard” speech
is becoming out-dated; ....
N. Coupland 2010
The “superiority” of RP was often a two-edged sword in 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 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).
Compare the Norwegian case with your own language in media.
Write down some differences and similarities by taking into account some examples in actual media usages.
Send the examples to the Forum on Desetandarisation and Demotisation
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