Standard variety

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A standard variety ( standard dialect ) is a standardized variety of a language, e.g. B. Standard German as opposed to German dialects and other non-standard varieties . A standard variety is always planned; H. the result of conscious language planning interventions (cf. planned language ).

Features of a standard variety

Today within the Standardologie as "classic" applicable definition of a standard variety was in the 1920s and 1930s by members of the Prague Linguistic Circle developed. The basic requirements for a modern standard variety had already been formulated by Vilém Mathesius (1932: 17) when he spoke of "flexible stability" (pružná stabilita) . This means that a standard variety must on the one hand be stable in order to enable communication within a large language community, but on the other hand also flexible in order to be able to respond to the many different aspects of a constantly changing world. The four classic features, which are also discussed below, were first listed by Alexander Issachenko (1958: 42):

  1. Polyvalence
  2. codification
  3. General liability
  4. stylistic differentiation

Codification and general application of the standard

Standardization includes, above all, the prescriptive “codification” (which is always written in modern times) of the desired norm in orthographies , grammars and dictionaries . The written language is usually codified primarily; the standard language also includes pronunciation norms .

This standard must be seen as "binding" for all members of the language community, i. H. Violations of the norm must be perceived as “errors” that can only be tolerated in informal situations in which the standard variety does not apply by definition. According to Garvin & Mathiot (1960), this presupposes certain attitudes on the part of the speakers, namely on the one hand loyalty to and pride in the standard variety and on the other hand an awareness of norms.

The development of a standard variety aims to optimize supra-regional communication in order to respond adequately to the modernization of society. Expansion of the markets, increased mobility, the oral mass media and last but not least the written media since the cradle printing after the invention of the printing press favored the development of a standard variety.

The development of standard varieties often goes hand in hand with the grinding of the dialects involved, which borrow elements from the more prestigious standard variety .

In today's understanding, codification presupposes the existence of written codification instruments. In history, however, there are also numerous examples of standardized varieties that were only based on memorizing and imitating sample texts. An example of a purely oral standard language is the ancient Arabic poetic language in pre-Islamic times.

Polyvalence and stylistic differentiation

A standard variety must have such a rich and varied vocabulary that it can be used in everyday life for all aspects of the modern world. Most modern standard languages ​​have different styles or registers , such as a literary style , an administrative style , a journalistic style, an informal style ( colloquial language ) and one or more technical language styles. In addition, there are often linguistic forms and jargons that do not actually belong to the standard variety, such as scene and youth languages and various technical jargons , which are often important as a source for enriching the vocabulary and for adapting the standard language to new circumstances.

Number of standard varieties in a language

The term “standard variety” is often incorrectly associated with variance within the standard. However, it only refers to the "difference" between the standard and nonstandard varieties of a language. In fact, most of the major languages ​​each have more than one standard variety, for example German with its different standard varieties in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, English, French, Dutch, and Spanish. For more details see under Pluricentric Languages . Italian, Danish and Polish have only one standard variety.

Other terms

In the sense of standard variety - which is the most widely accepted term today because it is clear and unmistakable - a number of other expressions are also used in linguistics, including in particular standard language and the synonyms given there , written language , high-level language and literary language . In the case of pluricentric standard languages, the individual standard varieties are sometimes also referred to as standard variants . However, this expression should be reserved for individual linguistic features and not be used for entire language systems.

Individual evidence

  1. István Lanstyák: Mad'arčina na Slovensku - štúdia z variačnej sociolingvistiky / Hungarian in Slovakia - A Study in Variational Sociolinguistics . In: Sociologický Časopis / Czech Sociological Review . tape 38 , no. 4 , 2002, ISSN  0038-0288 , p. 418 , JSTOR : 41131826 (Slovak).


  • Ulrich Ammon: Language - Variety, Standard Variety - Dialect. In: Sociolinguistics / Soziolinguistik 1 (1987), pp. 316-335.
  • Ulrich Ammon: Explication of the terms 'standard variety' and 'standard language' on the basis of norm theory . In: Günter Holtus , Edgar Radtke (ed.): Linguistic substandard . Tübingen 1986, p. 163.
  • Joshua A. Fishman: Sociology of Language. An interdisciplinary sociological consideration of language in society. Munich 1975.
  • Csaba Földes: The German language and its architecture. Aspects of diversity, variability and regionality: considerations of variation theory . In: Studia Linguistica XXIV (Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis; 2743), Wrocław 2005, pp. 37-59 ( online ).
  • Paul L. Garvin, Madeleine Mathiot: The urbanization of the Guaraní language: A problem in language and culture. In: Anthony FC Wallace (ed.): Men and cultures. Selected papers of the Fifth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Philadelphia, September 1-9 1956. Philadelphia 1960, pp. 783-790 (Reprinted in Joshua A. Fishman (Ed.): Readings in the sociology of language. The Hague, Paris 1968, pp. 365-374).
  • Aleksandr Isačenko: Vopros 5. Kakova specifika literaturnogo dvujazyčija v istorii slavjanskich narodov? In: Voprosy jazykoznanija 7.3 (1958), pp. 42-45.
  • Snježana Kordić : National varieties of the Serbo-Croatian language . In: Biljana Golubović, Jochen Raecke (eds.): Bosnian - Croatian - Serbian as foreign languages ​​at the universities of the world (=  The world of the Slavs, anthologies - Sborniki ). tape 31 . Sagner, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-86688-032-0 , pp. 93–102 ( PDF file; 1.3 MB [accessed March 1, 2011]).
  • Alfred Lameli: Standard and Substandard. Stuttgart 2004.
  • Vilém Mathesius: O požadavku stability ve spisovném jazyce . In: Prague Linguist Circle (ed.): Spisovná čeština a jazyková kultura. Praha 1932, pp. 14–31.
  • Peter Rehder: Standard language. Attempt a three-stage model. In: Die Welt der Slaven 40 (1995), pp. 352-366.

Web links

Wiktionary: literary language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations