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Next: Diglossia and the Linguistic Up: Introduction Previous: Classical and Extended Diglossia.

Diglossia as a Continuum.

Classical Fergusonian genetic endo-diglossia (Fishman's (a) and (d) types) characterizes a number of linguistic situations that have already received much attention in the literature. Fishman distinguishes usefully between classical and related and written/formal-spoken; he places Tamil in the former situation, whereas one could just as easily put it in the latter; one might say that Tamil actually has three norms (a classical, i.e. Sangam or Pandit style, modern Literary/formal-spoken, and educated colloquial, not to mention local dialects). Between these styles there are shadings from one style into another, i.e. it is possible to write modern Literary Tamil with an archaic lexicon but with non-archaic grammar; it is also possible to swing in the other direction and make modern LT more spoken, or to make educated colloquial more literary in flavor, or more non-standardly colloquial. In any event, though linguistic cultures think of diglossia as either-or, it is often a gradient cline, with one variant shading into another.

Harold Schiffman