Contemporary Standard Language Change

Kristiansen, Tore
December 2016
Taal & Tongval;2016, Vol. 68 Issue 2, p93
Academic Journal
This paper discusses in which ways language (de)standardization is an integral aspect of the socio-historical changes which move the Danish speech community (as an exemplary case of European communities with a long history of political independence) from Modernity to Late Modernity. The discussion is based on results from empirical studies of the strength of the Standard Language in terms of facts concerning both usage (SL) and ideology (SLI). The leitmotif of the discussion consists in assessing whether the linguistic facts and the ideological facts indicate that the 'SL/SLI complex' is being weakened or strengthened. This is assessed in the societal domains of education and broadcast news presentation, and in terms of general adherence in the population. A basic assumption of the approach is that the idea of 'best language' is a main factor in language standardization. In that respect the findings indicate that only subconsciously offered evaluations are relevant to elucidating the current status of the 'best language' idea. The implication is that there is one strictly shared norm which operates with two 'best languages' depending on evaluative perspective: the 'superior' CONSERVATIVE accent is best for the school context, the 'dynamic' MODERN accent is best for the media context. Considering the consistency of this subconsciously exhibited norm, together with the observed changes in use, we can only conclude that the 'best language' idea and the Danish SL/SLI complex appear stronger than ever before. The general lesson to consider concerns the role of the media, and of data elicitation under different conditions of (sub)conscious awareness, as well as the need for investigations of both aspects of the SLI/SL complex.


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