Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sociolinguistic phenomenon in which complementary social functions are distributed between a prestigious or formal variety and a common or colloquial variety of a language, as in Greek, Tamil, or Scottish English.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the coexistence of two closely related native languages or dialects among a certain population, one of which is regarded to be more prestigious than the other; also, that of two unrelated languages
  • n. the presence of a cleft or doubled tongue

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A condition of having a double tongue.

Etymologies

From Greek diglōssos, speaking two languages : di-, two; see di-1 + glōssa, tongue, language.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the New Latin diglōssia, from the French diglossie, from the Ancient Greek δίγλωσσος (diglōssos, "bilingual") + -ία (-ia, whence the French -ie and the English -ia). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia, which is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language, usually in different social situations.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Arabic Language Expertise in the Military

  • Not to mention some really fascinating works dealing with language and power, pidgins, diglossia, and creoles – the latter being an interesting case, because the term itself refers to a pidgin that becomes a language in its own right, but technically means “blackened”, and was originally something of a slur itself!

    When keeping it partisan goes wrong (IV) - Beyond The Commons - Macleans.ca

  • The part at the end about diglossia and code switching is relevant for me.

    Archive 2005-11-01

  • As for the classical/colloquial split in Arabic, the last I knew people were starting to think that the diglossia has always been there, that is that both a high and low form were exported from the Arabian peninsula.

    languagehat.com: HEBREW OR ISRAELI?

  • But considering the diglossia of modern Arabic (and the various sources of modern Iraqi Arabic), I don't find it difficult at all to believe that native speakers might have erroneous(sp?) or conflicting ideas about what things mean.

    languagehat.com: ABU GHRAIB.

  • Thus the assumption of a substantial diglossia in Anglo-Saxon England helps to explain why, after the removal of the Anglo-Saxon elite, Middle English dialect writing appears to feature such "sudden" innovations emanating or radiating from the two focal centres in the North and in the South West.

    languagehat.com: FREE HIGHBEAM TRIAL.

  • This paper suggests that diglossia in caste-like Anglo-Saxon societies consisted of OE.sub.

    languagehat.com: FREE HIGHBEAM TRIAL.

  • Bakhtin argued that diglossia - the presence of more than one voice in a text - is partly what makes the text interesting.

    I'd Rather Be Writing - Tom Johnson

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