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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 21, 2013

Discrete bilectalism: towards co-overt prestige and diglossic shift in Cyprus

Charley Rowe and Kleanthes K. Grohmann


This article explores the nuances in the type of diglossic society in Cyprus towards a characterization of the precise stage of diglossic progression that accurately describes the current sociolinguistic state of Greek-speaking Cyprus. The question concerns the identification of that status as diglossic, as standardwith-dialects (social dialectia), or as bidialectal. We propose that the society can be characterized as diglossic, likely moving towards diaglossia. The term co-overt prestige is also introduced here, juxtaposed both with canonical Bourdieuan overt prestige and with the concept of covert prestige (Trudgill 1972), a juxtaposition which drives the classification. This article also puts forth the notion of (discrete) bilectalism to capture the “linguality” of Greek Cypriot speakers, that is, bilectal in the local vernacular, the L variety (Cypriot Greek), and the superposed official language, the H variety (Standard Modern Greek), thereby refuting the notion of a continuum bridging the two varieties. The case is also made here that studying language acquisition and development in diglossic societies contributes to a better understanding of discrete linguistic systems in children and fully developed speakers alike.

Published Online: 2013-11-21
Published in Print: 2013-11-20

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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