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Content Page

1. Introduction.........................................................................................................................1

2. Diglossia.............................................................................................................................2

3. Ferguson’s nine criteria......................................................................................................2

4. Diglossia and Education.....................................................................................................4

5. Mozambique context of Diglossia in education.................................................................4

5.1. Positive and negative aspects..........................................................................................4

5.1.1. Positive aspects of diglossia in Mozambique..............................................................4

5.1.2. Negative aspects of diglossia in Mozambique............................................................5

6. Conclusion..........................................................................................................................7

7. Reference............................................................................................................................8
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1. Introduction

In this current paperwork we will be concerning about the diglossic situation, whereby we
will also try to answer the question ‘can we consider Mozambique as a diglossic country? ’
we know that diglossia is considered as the use of two varieties of the same language, in other
words it is where the same language is used in the different circumstances what creates
division in terms of the function (High variety and Low variety). Some author uses the word
colloquial to refer to the low variety and the High variety is also considered as the standard
language.

In this paper we will see where these varieties are mostly used, by taking into consideration
the nine criteria that Ferguson brings. We have according to the researches done that, the high
variety is mostly used in the places that are more prestigious like in the church, court,
parliament, universities and so on; while the Low variety is mostly used in our society (with
our friends, families and neighbours). Diglossia according to the article we read, was firstly
used with the Arabic world and it was firstly introduced by them, later on Ferguson was
credited to be the first one using this term as we will see in the body of this paper.

Driving our attention to the question presented above about Mozambique being a diglossic
country, we will simply say that yes, Mozambique can and is considered as diglossic country,
more about that answer you will see in the body of this workgroup.
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2. Diglossia

Diglossia is a common phenomenon that characterizes the Arabic-speaking world. The term
has generally been used to describe a situation in which the spoken language, which is
regarded by Ferguson (1959) as a Low variety (L1), in a community differs significantly from
its written form regarded as a High variety (H2).

The term diglossia was first introduced by the German linguist Karl Krumbacher (1902) in
his book 'Das problem der Modern Geriechischen Schriftsprache (1902) in which he dealt
with the nature, origin and development of diglossia with special reference to the Greek and
Arabic situations.

Ferguson is credited to be the first linguist who used the specific term ‘‘diglossia’’ in his
article (1959) entitled Diglossia in the journal Word, to refer to a situation “where two
varieties of a language exist side by side throughout the community, with each having a
definite role to play” (Ferguson, 1972: 232).

Diglossia is the term used to describe a situation in which there are two distinct codes with
clear functional separation; that is, one code is employed in one set of circumstances and the
other in an entirely different set. Ferguson viewed diglossia as two varieties of a given
language that are inevitably related. He originally summarizes diglossia as follows:
A relatively stable situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the
language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very
divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed
variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of
an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely in
formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but
is not used by any section of the community for ordinary conversation
(Ferguson 1959: 336).

In order to characterize the phenomenon of diglossia, Ferguson used nine criteria:

3. Ferguson’s nine criteria

1. Function: High variety is more elegant and formal, and used for sermons, all sorts of
letters, speeches and so on; while the low variety is appropriate when conversing with
family, colleagues and friends, both are used for different purposes; therefore, High

1
L – Low variety
2
H – High variety
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and Low varieties have different domains and native speakers of the community
would find it odd if anyone used H in L domain or vice versa.
2. Prestige: High variety is more prestigious and highly valued. H variety is regarded as
superior to L in a number of aspects;
3. Literary heritage: In most diglossic languages, literature is written in the High
variety except what is called folk poetry, which is written and said in the colloquial
language;
4. Acquisition: A significant distinction between the High and Low varieties is the way
of acquiring each one. L is the variety acquired first at home in the childhood period,
it is the mother tongue, while H is learnt through going to schools and learning its
rules and structures;
5. Standardization: One of the major characteristics of H variety is the grammar
system. Ferguson (1959: 435) calls H “grammatically more complex”. That is to say,
H variety marks many more categories of grammar: nominative, genitive and
accusative cases, duality in the pronoun, verb, and adjective;
6. Stability: Diglossia is a long-life phenomenon. It may last for centuries. Arabic
diglossia has last since the old time till the current days resisting the linguistic
changes;
7. Grammar: As mentioned above, H variety has grammatical categories not present in
the Low variety. The H variety grammar is more complex than in L;
8. Lexicon: An explicit feature of diglossia in the existence of paired lexical items,
where L and H varieties have different terms for the same object;
9. Phonology: The H variety has preserved its phonological system, while L variety has
diverged from it with relative change in the phonological elements.

Nevertheless, Ferguson's definition of diglossia has undergone some changes when Fishman
(1976) extended the term to include a wider variety of language situations and comprise two
different languages instead of two varieties within a given language.

Making a use of the nine characteristics of Ferguson’s diglossia we can consider


Mozambique a diglossic country, simply because of the amount of languages and the
varieties they have. Talking about phonology criteria we can be certain that it is one of the
problems Mozambican people face due to the different accent each language has.

E.g.: for us who are doing English we have different accent, and will develop it differently
because of the phonological aspect of each language, that also happens with the way we talk
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using the L variety when we want to emphasize something our voice changes to make it
perfect or to transmit a certain feeling through that intonation.

The standardization of Portuguese as High language is also one of the characteristics that
makes Mozambique a diglossic country. We have that H which is grammatically difficult for
other to understand and even to use. And this H variety is the one that are used in universities,
churches, courts and so forth; somehow we can consider it as jargon because it mostly
happens in specific areas and among certain group of people. The L variety it is much easy to
use and because of that, people are more familiarized with it, and we feel more comfortable
using that with our friends and family.

4. Diglossia and Education

Because it is characterized by the use of two varieties in complementary distribution,


diglossia has its impact on the educational process. Maamouri (1989) draws our attention to
the “low quality results” due to the diglossic situations in our schools and the linguistic
distance between the various Arabic colloquial forms.

Maamouri (1989: 68) mentions that ‘‘one of the consequences growing out of the dramatic
diglossic situation in Arab schools could be the growing use of the colloquial forms in formal
and non-formal education and in other numerous daily activities.’’

Kaye (2001: 119) says that, because diglossia and bi-dialectal variations exist in Arabic-
speaking countries, “some educated Arabs find it difficult to carry on a conversation in
MSA”. On the other hand, Zughoul (1980) regards the high rate of illiteracy in any society as
one of the most important reasons standing behind the expansion of the linguistic distance
between MSA3 and its colloquial forms in the Arab World.

5. Mozambique context of Diglossia in education


5.1. Positive and negative aspects
5.1.1. Positive aspects of diglossia in Mozambique

We believe that one of the positive thing it may bring is to keep our identity by using theses
languages in education, this will somehow help the country not to lose some cultural identity,
due to the situation we have in our country.

We also agree that it will bring together some good features of our lost cultures, that may be
strong to our country and may also bring some good values to the people of these languages,
3
MSA: Modern Standard Arabic
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and it can also help the country to improve in some aspects, for example it can help
improving the tourism industry in our country, because there are people who like to visit our
country and they want to know more about our cultural identity and they like to learn things
from other culture.

5.1.2. Negative aspects of diglossia in Mozambique

Looking to our context of diglossic situation adopted to use in our schools, we can consider
Mozambique as being a diglossic country in education. Why do we say so? Observing the
nine criteria of Ferguson we have acknowledged that our country has got most of the
characteristics mentioned by Ferguson that can be somehow a problem to the teachers and
students to get into this diglossic situation. Driving our attention to that in the education, it
has come to our knowledge that the government has introduced some mother tongues to be
the principal language to be instructional language in the schools.

Taking the same vision of Maamouri when he talks about the consequences it may bring, we
agree with his point, we believe he has done an experience with that for him to come to the
point of that conclusion.

E.g.: when he talks about grammatical aspect, we agree when he say that the High variety is
more complex than the Low variety, almost none of the grammatical aspect is respected when
we are using L variety with our friends and families (the function of the variety).

There is something interesting when one of the author talks about the literacy. Why talking
about literacy in diglossia situation? Because it is one of the problems diglossia brings.

In our country they introduced in the centre of Mozambique Cisena language as the main one
to the used in teaching and learning process. Therefore, this will create problems to those
who don’t understand that language, and as consequence we can increase our rate of illiteracy
than overcome it; and it is also a problem to the parents of those who have their own mother
tongues to teach their children, as a way of preserving their culture.

We were also concerned about the fluency and accuracy of the instructional language for the
students, and we conclude that most of the people in our country have difficulties using the
High variety of Portuguese as our official language. this will be a big challenge for the
students who have never been through it before. Let’s look to the citation below:
Students’ poor proficiency in MSA may be attributed to several reasons such as
the spread of dialects in the Arab world, the diglossic situations in both school and
society, the curricula irrelevance and teachers’ incompetence. Some sociolinguists
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attribute the low quality results of education in the Arab schools to the diglossic
situation in classrooms and the linguistic distance between MSA and the different
forms of spoken Arabic. (Al-Huri, 2011: 1).

Kaye mentions that, because diglossia and bi-dialectal variations exist in Arabic-speaking
countries, “some educated Arabs find it difficult to carry on a conversation in MSA”.

Observing the citation of Kaye, we can conclude that this will be the situation of the people in
the future, they may find difficulties in using the modern language in a conversation with
others that do not know their mother tongue or High variety, and it will somehow create
division between the people just because someone does not speak that certain variety of the
language whether H or L.

E.g.: talking about churches, we have a specific language that are exclusively used in the
church, meanwhile we cannot us that language outside with people who do not know them.
For example, we greet each other by using the peace sign in the churches but, we do not use it
outside. Outside we simply use the expression we are familiarized with, like: how are you?
Good morning, etc.

Somehow we use the term diglossia to separate our conversation regarding to the kind of
people or place we may be into. We can have more than two varieties of the same language
but used in different situations. So, we can consider informal variety as L and the formal
variety as H.

We believe that the government wants to preserve some of the cultural aspects of our country
but, we have so many languages that can bring some problems to our citizens or better to
some cultures, because it will be impossible to all the languages to be taught or to be used as
the instructional language for teaching and learning process.
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6. Conclusion

When we were doing this paper and reading at the same time, we come to the understand that
it is an essential matter for the linguistics and also for us as teachers to be, so we are invited
by this sociolinguistic situation to see the connection between that and language we will use
in schools; to grasp how language works and how people can learn through it. Some
sociolinguistics have researched and acknowledged that languages play an important role
regarding schools and also the society. Therefore, in education it has been a remarkable status
in their work trying to explore it more with the linguistic phenomena in real contexts.

Diglossia is one linguistic phenomena, which has taken the major part of the sociolinguist
field of research. The varieties that can be used for education purposes is considered as a
controversial situation besides the semi-consensus amongst applied sociolinguistics and also
the educationists that make use of it for teaching process as a medium of instruction.
However, the sociolinguistic diglossic situation of the communities, looking to the examples
given in the main body of this paper, remains the important factor which very much impacts
the varieties used in the classroom interaction between the teacher and the student.

Mozambique being a diglossic country is something good, but the problems come when they
try to standardize a certain language to be taught in the school, being the high variety of
Portuguese or English for example; it may not be well accepted by the students, and
somehow to the teachers it will be uncomfortable using that language variety with the
students that are not familiarized with that high variety of that language. We could simply
continue with that low variety that makes things easier for everyone, at the end of it what
really matters it the communication nothing more than that.
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7. Reference

AL-HURI, I. H., (2011). The Impact of Diglossia in Teaching/Learning the Arabic Course in
Sana’a Secondary Schools. Algeria: FLL. P. 1.

FERGUSON, C., (1959). Diglossia: Language in Culture and Society. Word. pp. 336. 435.

FERGUSON, C., [1959] (1972). Diglossia. In Language and Social Context. Harmondworth:
Penguin Books. P. 232.

KAYE, A. (2001). Diglossia: The State of the Art. California State University Fullerton, Int’l.
J. Soc. Lang. 152 (2001), pp.117-129, online:
http://www.nhlrc.ucla.edu/events/institute/2007/readings/Kaye diglossia.pdf

MAAMOURI, M., (1989) cited by AL-HURI, I. H., (2011). The Impact of Diglossia in
Teaching/Learning the Arabic Course in Sana’a Secondary Schools. Algeria: FLL. P. 27.

ZUGHOUL, M. R. (1980). Diglossia in Arabic: Investigating Solutions. Anthropological


Linguistics, Vol. 22, No. 5, pp. 201-17.
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Afonso Horácio Guente


Gema
Lina Zunguze
Guimarães Cheiro
Sumate Phiri

Diglossic situation in Mozambique


(Can Mozambique be considered as a diglossic country?)

Licenciatura em ensino de Inglês com Habilidades em Tradução e Interpretação


4th Year

Universidade Licungo
Beira, Março de 2020
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Afonso Horácio Guente


Gema
Lina Zunguze
Guimarães Cheiro
Sumate Phiri

Diglossic situation in Mozambique


(Can Mozambique be considered as a diglossic country?)

Licenciatura em ensino de Inglês com Habilidades em Tradução e Interpretação


4th Year

Teacher: MSc. Susana Baule

Universidade Licungo
Beira, Março de 2020