Discussion of Kloss, Types of Multilingual Communities

Schiffman, H.
Handout for LING 540
Language Policy


  1. Types of speech communities. Speech community: all the citizens in a given state but excluding those who mo(ther) to(ngue) is spoken natively by less than 3 %: National Core Community: NCC

    Mother tongue, major types:

  2. Number of languages used by individuals. There is no correlation between state and individual on this.
    1. Fully monolingual citizenry. Examples of an NCC A1: Portugal, Iceland, Japan

    2. Diglossic citizenry. Examples of an NCC A2: Greece, Egypt, Haiti: diglossic language, two varieties.

    3. Bilingual citizenry. Examples of NCC A3: citizenry may be monolingual but is faced with another language (2nd) in school, cultural setting, etc. Nagaland?

    4. Tri/multilingual citizenry. Examples of NCC A4: monolingual Maltese are faced with Italian and English as second/3rd (diglossic?) languages; monolingual Luxemburgers are faced with French and German as 2/3rd languages.

    NCC's of types A2-4 are monolingual only in childhood/home language. ``Monopaidoglossic" (?)

    In NCC's of 3 and 4, the 2nd or 3rd tongue is characterized by:

    1. Voluntarism: no compulsion by external factors to adopt 2nd tongue as own

    2. Permanence: long term stability in relationship between 2 lgs.
    3. Functional diversification: different domains of diff. lgs.

    We need cover term for diffs betw. 2 and 3/4: endo-diglossic vs. exo-diglossic?

    While NCC's of type A are common, type B (bilingual) may be monolingual or bilingual, usually widespread B NCC's are very rare: even where they may be equal by law, widespread biling. citizenry is usually not: Switzerland, Belgium remain monolingual, Canada exhibits biling. mostly among French, etc. etc. S. Africa biling. mostly among Afrikaaners, etc.

    Often the international reputation of a language may have some influence on tendency of other tongue speakers to learn it, but this has no effect in the case of English speakers in Canada learning French.

    NCC B: various types:

    1. Bilingual, but only one lg. official: 19th century Belgium (Dutch were backward)
    2. One community is numerically inferior
    3. One pursues a policy of linguistic oppression at all costs. (19th century Russia; Sri Lanka 1958-present, Iraq towards Kurds, etc.)

    NCC's of type C: (more than 3 languages of sizable population).

    1. Enthrone one indigenous and one foreign: Pakistan
    2. Use two imported ones (Italian and English in Somalia, French and English in Cameroon)
  3. : Types of personal and impersonal bilingualism.

    Personal Bilingualism:

    1. natural bilingualism: result of mixed marriages, mixed neighborhood, etc.

    2. voluntary bilingualism: result of strictly private endeavor, or is matched by efforts of the state to encourage it (lg. is not only taught, but used)

    3. decreed bilingualism: backed by state but against wishes of population (Poland pre-1914, Ukraine under Czars, etc.)

    Impersonal bilingualism: official blanks (census forms, social-security application forms, IRS forms), postage stamps/currency, official public notices (posters), etc. (People are not bilingual, things are.)

  4. Legal status: is the language ``official/national" for the 1) whole state? 2) part of territory only? 3) promoted in schools or elsewhere? 4) tolerated by authorities only? 5) prohibited by authorities?

  5. Segments of population involved: 1) all adult males? 2) all literate males/adults? 3) all secondary school graduates? (India) breadwinners?

  6. Type and degree of individual bilingualism: from full coordinate bilingualism to marginal knowledge.

  7. Prestige of lgs: 1) rich literature? 2) modernization? 3) international standing? 4) prestigeful speakers?

    `bilinguisme de promotion' vs. `biling. de concession/resignation' (Belgium)

  8. Degree of distance: are language related or distant?

  9. Indigenousness of languages (vs. imported colonial relic?) Japanese in Hawaii: latecomers vs. Hawaiian `natives'; Malays in Malaysia vs. Tamils, Chinese.)

  10. Attitude toward linguistic stability: in immigrant societies, attitude is that lang. shift is natural; in older societies attitude is that language loyalty is natural.

Harold Schiffman
Wed Sep 24 11:01:49 EDT 1997