The Sociolinguistic Phenomenon of Modern Greek Diglossia: the Outcome of Conflicts between (H)igh and (L)ow Variety and the National Language Question in 19th – 20th c. Greece: an Historico - Sociolinguistic Perspective.
The present paper first and foremost aims to examine the sociolinguistic phenomenon of diglossia as it was depicted within the 19th and 20th century Greek linguistic community (1830-1976). More specifically, this study tries to explore the social context in general and the political-religious-ideological context in particular within which Modern Greek Diglossia (MGD for short) first presented and developed, and how it eventually declined. The paper at hand adopts a particular sociolinguistic analysis by providing the most suitable definition for the concept of diglossia – among the many variations that have been propounded with the passage of time – under which MGD could best be described and analysed. More concretely, the specific definition adopted in our case is the initial and original Fergusonian one. The term diglossia proposed by Ferguson refers to the social and functional differentiation of two linguistic varieties – namely an (H)igh and a (L)ow one – of the same language and of the same speech community for distinct purposes. Since Katharévousa (i.e., the H code) and Dhimotikí (i.e., the L code) in MGD constitute two varieties of the same language (i.e., the continuum of the Greek language) and of the same speech community, Ferguson’s model seems to be rather relevant and fairly applicable. Furthermore, due to the fact that diglossia almost always is interwoven within an historical as well as a social context, emphasis is placed on those two contexts. It has been stated by Mesthrie et al. (2000, p. 42) that ‘language is embedded in a social and historical context, and a full understanding of language can only be achieved by paying attention to those contexts’. Thus, both the historico-linguistic perspective and the socio-linguistic approach that are employed in this paper intend to explain the emergence, maintenance, attrition as well as demise of MGD in the light of external socio-politico-historical factors, on the one hand, and to carefully analyse the specific characteristics of the phenomenon of MGD as such, on the other. The raising of the national language query (i.e., which of the existing Greek varieties is going to become the standard, official, symbolic, written language of the Greek nation?) – is another parameter which has to be considered side by side with the modern Greek diglossic situation. In fact, the Language Question in Greece is transformed from a clearly linguistic issue into a sociopolitical issue. Above all, the very existence of MGD is regarded as embedded in the ideological beliefs of its speakers. As a result, the conflicts that took place between the proponents of Katharévousa and the representatives of Dhimotikí in common with the reasons for such conflicts are mentioned. In the case of MGD conflicts exist between the two diglossic varieties, when in other countries the diglossia situation is not problematic at all. In Greece H and L varieties compete because their supporters compete. Last but not least, the predominance of Dhimotikí over Katharévousa is clearly justified.
"The Sociolinguistic Phenomenon of Modern Greek Diglossia: the Outcome of Conflicts between (H)igh and (L)ow Variety and the National Language Question in 19th – 20th c. Greece: an Historico - Sociolinguistic Perspective.,"
The ITB Journal:
1, Article 3.
Available at: http://arrow.dit.ie/itbj/vol10/iss1/3