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Q. Discuss the four stages of language standardization as defined by Einar Haugen.

Ensure you provide


examples to support your discussion.

In a speech community several different varieties of the same language are used. Amongst many
varieties are many dialects that are spoken by a large number of people in a community. Typically these
local dialects spoken in the centers of commerce and government, where a need of standard variety
arises, become standardized. As defined by Holmes ‘a standard variety is one which is written and is
undergone some degree of codification or regularization; it is recognized as a prestigious variety or a
code by a community’. It is the variety used by the courts and the influential class; the area where the
largest proportion of the population lives speaks this standardized variety. Peter Trudgill states in his
essay “Standard English: What It isn’t”, that ‘a standardized language is language one of whose varieties
has undergone standardization’.

The process of standardization is described by different socio-linguists. Haugen in his book “Language
Conflict and Planning: The case of Modern Norwegian”, describes the four stages standardization.
According to Haugen standardization can occur through cultural institutions for both written and spoken
languages. Haugen calls the first stage “selection”. At this stage one variety out of many different
varieties that are spoken in a speech community is selected. This selection of one variety can be
influenced by political cultural economical factors. Standardization is initiated with the selection of
variety, meaning spellings or pronunciations. The second stage defined by Haugen is ‘codification’. We
can define codification as the process where scholars analyze and record the vocabulary and
grammatical patterns of a language. Peter Trudgill defines codification as a language variety acquires a
publicly required and fixed form. In case of the English language much of the codification took place in
the 18th century. Codifying a variety can vary from case to case depending upon the stage of
standardization that already exists. This stage typically means to develop a writing system; develop rules
for pronunciation, lexemes and syntax. Even if one variety is selected that variety too has many accents.
Then the accent that is suitable for all is selected and then is standardized. In case of vocabulary;
multiple lexemes may exist for the same concept. Then at this stage of the standardization process one
of more words are made standard. Similarly several grammatical forms may exist in the selected variety
but only one form is made standard. In short we can say that dictionaries are made and rules are
prescribed to codify the variety that is being standardized. The spellings and the script are also defined
and selected at this stage. The standard script for Punjabi in is different in India and Pakistan; in India it’s
Shah Mukhi and in Pakistan it’s Arabic. Once the words and forms are selected by the elite, the domain
of use of these forms is to be expanded. So if the spoken community chooses the new variety as the
standard language, other communities will have to accept the new forms and then begin using them.
Haugen calls this the ‘elaboration of function’ which refers to adding a literary device in the newly
standardized variety and using it educationally and scientifically or for legal or government purposes. At
this stage the variety is promoted and its use is prescribed for educational, legal, scientific and
governmental purposes. Children learn the selected variety at school; lawyers and judges use the
selected language variety in their legal work. Different functions performed in the society involve the
selected language. Haugen says that when a word enters the officially sanctioned lexicon, the dictionary
may have already had many existing forms circulating in the culture. For instance; the spice ‘coriander’
had different variants such as ‘coriandre’, ‘coliander’ and ‘corriander’ noted in the oxford English
dictionary before the present spelling had been decided. Status planning is the next stage of
standardization which involves marketing of the newly evolved standard. During this process,
practicality is needed in deciding who will have access to the standard and what teacher training need to
be undertaken, what new forms will become part of everyday life, what official translations will be
needed and what will be the cost of the materials in a newly written variety. Status planning means
acceptance of the selected language variety for the general public. There might be some resistance from
the speakers of the other dialects so at this stage the newly selected variety is promoted. Articles are
written in the newspapers for the promotion of the newly selected variety; seminars are conducted.
Another purpose for this stage is to raise the prestige of this language.

The ‘selection’ of the variety of English that is called standard was done on commercial basis. This
variety was spoken by the largest proportion of England; it was the variety used by the merchants of
London. It was used for communication at the courts, literature and administration purposes. The
process of standardization began in 1476 when printing press was introduced to England. Previously
documents that were written in English had grammatical errors depending upon the origin of the writer.
As books were copied by hand; copying involved much work. The development of the printing press not
only allowed ease for copying but also established the publishing industry. English publishers had the
means and the market for their new industry. What was now needed was a standardized form so that
those setting the presses would be able to quickly reproduce the texts that buyers would also easily
understand. So publishers chose the variety of the English which was spoken in the south-east of the
England for printing as the books were largely composed of the upper and the arising middle classes
around London. This shows that ‘corpus planning’ is done at times as a part of decision making in a
commercial setting. This standard variety then was authorized by the King by its use in the King James
Bible. During the Enlightenment attempts were made to improve the English spelling system also to set
up guidelines for the correct usage of grammar. The exclusion of multiple negation i.e. using don’t and
no in the same sentence was considered wrong. Other languages such as French do not consider the use
of multiple negation as wrong, moreover multiple negation can be found in Chaucer.

At times standardization is done for political purposes; back in the 19th century, the Finns developed
their spoken language to serve a complete set of functions. They needed a standardized language to
declare their independence in front of the Swedes and the Russians. They succeeded in doing so and
now the Finnish language is an important symbol of their identity. Government at times deliberately
involves itself in the process of standardization by appointing official bodies of one kind to regulate
changes felt to be desirable. One of the most famous examples of an official body established to
promote the language of a country was Richelieu’s establishment of the Académie Française in 1635.
This was a time when varieties existed in France and when very few people were educated. The
Academia Francaise faced a very difficult task: the codification of French spelling, vocabulary and
grammar. Its goal was to style and strengthen French nationality, even two centuries later, the French of
Paris later was unknown in many parts of the country. The standardization process occasionally results
in some languages actually achieving more than one standardized variety. Standardization is also an
ongoing matter, for only ‘dead’ languages like Latin and Classical Greek are standardized for all time.
Living languages change and the standardization process is necessarily an ongoing one. It is also one that
may be described as more advanced in languages like French or German and less advanced in languages
like Bahasa Indonesia and Swahili. When Tanzania gained independence in 1961, the government faced
a dilemma of which language should be chosen as its national language. Choosing English for a newly
independent nation seemed inappropriate. The first president of Tanzania chose Swahili, a language of
the Bantu language family, which was widely used throughout the country as a lingua franca in many
contexts. Swahili was already a medium of primary education. Some other obvious reasons for choosing
the language were ideological. Swahili served as the lingua franca of the anti colonial political movement
for independence. The process of standardizing Swahili had begun by the British administration before
the independence of the state. The variety of the language was selected which was used in the 1920’s in
Zanzibar. Its codification involved a specific spelling system, describing the grammar of the new variety
which was selected and writing a dictionary to record the new vocabulary. Following the independence,
Swahili was used for education, administration, politics and law. Its vocabulary was expanded to meet
the demands of the new contexts by borrowing from English and Arabic appropriately. When Norway
became independent in 1814, the government faced with a disglossia situation with Danish as a High
function language and a range of Norwegian dialects as Low function varieties. The Elite society spoke
Danish with the Norwegian pronunciation in formal situations and a compromise between those local
Norwegian dialects in informal contexts. The lower class used Norwegian dialects in Danish influence.
The government had a choice of developing a national language from standard Danish or from within
the Norwegian dialects. Danish offered all the advantages of being codified in dictionaries and
grammatically correct; on the other hand it was the language of the High function domains and of the
‘oppressors’ from whom Norway had gained independence. So although choosing Danish would have
reduced linguist problems but it would have increased other problems. Standard Danish was not used
widely for informal interaction, especially in rural areas, and people’s attitudes towards the language
were hesitant. Choosing a variety from amongst the Norwegian dialects raised issues relating to forms
and new functions required of a standard language. Any dialect selected would need codifying and
would require extensive functional elaboration. The problem was to select which dialect specifically that
caused obvious problems. Two different approaches were taken to developing a standard variety of
Norwegian. One approach selected a variety based on Danish, with some orthographic and
morphological modifications based on educated urban Norwegian speech. This eventually developed
into Bokmal. The other approach created a new Norwegian written standard by drawing on a range of
rural reforms Nynorsk. Nynorsk involved an amalgamation of several dialects. This composite variety
was the creation of Ivar Aasen, a schoolteacher who had studied dialects. Aasen identified common
grammatical patterns in different dialects and he chose vocabulary from different regions. Rural dialect
resources also solved the problems of functional elaboration, or extending the use of Norwegian
domains where Danish had previously been the only appropriate code.