LSSlaL 13: Register variation and language standards in Czech

Product no.: ISBN 9783895866128
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Register variation and language standards in Czech

Neil Bermel
Sheffield University

This 35-45,000-word monograph, accessible to both Slavists and general linguists, addresses "larger questions raised by Czech register/code variation in a cross-linguistic perspective.

Czech can be described as a quasi-diglossic language situation, with a standard language that has no native speakers, and an interdialect that has no currency as a communicative standard. The author reviews research surrounding the "standard Czech – common Czech” divide, as well as current work on language varieties, and concludes that both schools promote descriptions favoring separate codes that interact in defined manners.

The study makes use of an original 30,000-word coded corpus to examine a problematic area along the varietal faultline -- dialogue in belletristic texts -- and suggests that, contrary to received wisdom, the strict lines drawn between Czech's "standard” and "common” varieties are no longer as relevant as they were. Data from contemporary Czech testifies instead to the gradual crumbling of diglossia and the development of these two varieties into a single code with graduated features showing formality and informality and having some discourse functions. The received view of Czech -- and of language varieties overall -- is shown in this instance to hinder our understanding, rather than facilitating it.

This research supports other recent reevaluations of the received view in language contact and bilingualism studies, and shows how they can be applied to quasi-diglossic situations like the Czech one.

ISBN 9783895866128. LINCOM Studies in Slavic Linguistics 13. 220pp. 2000.

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