What makes a standard language?

Sociolinguistic seminar.

The scientific background for the seminar is the work that has been accomplished within the pan-European SLICE network. SLICE is an acronym for Standard Language Ideology in Contemporary Europe (alternatively … in a Changing Europe). The network is an offshoot of the LANCHART centre (Sprogforandringscentret) at the University of Copenhagen.

The question we want to raise in the seminar is whether the social-psychological mechanisms at work under the contemporary socio-historical conditions of Late-Modernity produce a conception of the ‘norm-and-variation’ relation which differs from the one which was produced under the conditions of Modernity.

The SLICE research program aims to investigate this question empirically,

  • partly by analysing evaluative data collected from young people in experimental set ups (paying attention to a possible existence of different implicit and explicit evaluations),
  • partly by analysing the use and evaluation of language norm-and-variation in the new public sector which develops after WWII based on the spoken media (radio and TV).

A particular interest in these analyses has been to determine whether the language-related evaluative dimensions are undergoing change. Research in several communities show indications that the traditionally well-established evaluative distinction between ‘status/competence’ and ‘solidarity/sociability’ as positive associations related to ‘standard’ vs. ‘non-standard’ ways of speaking is being replaced by an evaluative distinction between a ‘dynamic’ way of speaking (more positively associated with the
spoken media) and a ‘superior’ way of speaking (more positively associated with the traditional public sectors of education and business life).

For the languagers that grow up today, the so-called social media have no doubt become a more important and influential media universe than the traditional broadcast media. And many grow up in urban environments that display new forms of linguistic heterogeneity. What are the consequences of this new situation for the conception of the ‘norm-and-variation’ relationship? This intriguing question will also be addressed at the seminar.

NOTE  For coffee ordering purposes, please register for the seminar with Mads Nielsen, no later than Thursday 5 December at 12


13:00  Introduction
           Tore Kristiansen (University of Copenhagen)

13:15  Implicit-explicit language attitudes in England: Attitude change in
            apparent time data?
            Robert McKenzie (University of Northumbria)

13:45  Rethinking the role of the broadcast media in (de)standardization:
            Glasgow dialect meets ‘Mockney’
            Jane Stuart-Smith (University of Glasgow)

14:15  When late-modernity is… late. Best language in post-communist
            Lithuanian media and community
            Loreta Vaicekauskienė (Vilnius University)

14:45  Coffee break

15:15  State broadcasting as evidence of sociolinguistic change.
            How media language changes, and symbolic meaning changes
            with it
            Jacob Thøgersen, Nicolai Pharao & Janus Mortensen (University of

15:45  Linguistic diversity and standard ideology in Denmark
            Lian Malai Madsen & Andreas Stæhr (University of Copenhagen)

16:15  Extending SLICE. From top-down to bottom-up, from survey to
            social media corpora
            Stefan Grondelaers (Radboud University Nijmegen)

16:45  Discussion

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