next up previous
Next: Other definitions of standardization. Up: Definitions of Standardization. Previous: Definitions of Standardization.

Status planning and corpus planning.

Though a distinction is often made between status planning and corpus planning[*], in fact corpus planning may also be viewed as a collection of decisions about the status of individual elements of the corpus of the language: this pronunciation is preferred over that; this spelling is correct and that is not; this plural-marker or past-tense form is preferred over that; this syntactic construction is ``valorized" and that is ``stigmatized". When all these status decisions[*] have been made, the corpus has been ``standardized". It may then be disseminated through printing (the Bible, the Quran), through its use in royal or other administrative edicts (Charlemagne's grandsons' Strasbourg Oaths, the edicts of Asoka) or nowadays, as the form of language taught in schools (Malaysia, Norway). The set of decisions may sometimes be summarized in the form of a (prescriptive) grammar.[*] As Garvin (1964) points out, decisions about standardization may get made, and perhaps even published, but dissemination of the results may fail; i.e. the standard may fail to be implemented, and implementation may in fact be the Achilles heel of most language planning. Garvin's requirement that there be flexible stability means that there should be some stability, usually through printing of a dictionary, spelling book, or reference grammar. But it must also be flexible, allowing for eventual revisions, addition of vocabulary, and adaptation to more modern technology. Garvin also posited four functions of a standard language:

The unifying, i.e. the ability to unite several dialect areas into a single standard-language community; this function is largely symbolic, since it renders subjective value to notions of what kind of linguistic community the speakers inhabit. For Tamil, this is in general not a problem, since SST is accepted and spoken widely in Malaysia and Singapore as well as in Tamil Nadu.[*]
The separatist, whose function is to set the group off from others, and establish boundaries; again, this is largely symbolic. Since Tamil is already recognized as a separate literary language, separate from its neighbors Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, the problem of deciding what is or is not Tamil does not arise.

The prestige function, i.e. the prestige of possessing a standard language; this function is also largely symbolic, i.e. it has abstract meaning for the speakers, i.e. gives them pride in the ability of their language to `hold its own' among other written languages.

Tamil already has a prestigeous literary language; this is thus not an issue here; rather, capturing some of the prestige for the spoken language is a problem.

The frame-of-reference function, which Garvin refers to as providing objectivity; this is the ability to serve as a frame of reference or an objective standard for correctness and for the perception and evaluation of poetic speech.

As far as this affects Spoken Tamil, one needs an objective standard for what would or not be considered `correct', but it is not necessary for poetry, since the older norms dominate the domain of poetry.

As is obvious, some of these apply to the development of SST and some do not; since Tamil already has a written standard (LT) some of these do not apply and will not unless SST captures domains currently dominated by LT. It must also be noted that LT is not a unitary norm; there are many varieties of LT, some extremely conservative or archaicizing, but since Tamil culture conceives of the language as being only one (rather than multiple stages or varieties) taking refuge in the archaic style is often the strongest defense of the recalcitrant resisters to modernization: they can so easily demonstrate how modern spoken forms are totally inappropriate for something like religious usage.[*]

next up previous
Next: Other definitions of standardization. Up: Definitions of Standardization. Previous: Definitions of Standardization.
Harold Schiffman