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From Latin diglōssia, from French diglossie, from Ancient Greek δίγλωσσος (díglōssos, bilingual) + -ία (-ía) (whence the French -ie and English -ia). Equivalent to di- +‎ -glossia.



diglossia (uncountable)

  1. (linguistics, sociology) The coexistence in a given population of two closely related native languages or dialects, one of which is regarded as more prestigious than the other; the similar coexistence of two unrelated languages.
    Coordinate term: digraphia
    • 1994, Periklis Daltas, The Concept of Diglossia from Ferguson to Fishman to Fasold, Irene Philippaki-Warburton, Katerina Nicolaidis, Maria Sifianou (editors), Themes in Greek Linguistics: Papers from the First International Conference on Greek Linguistics, John Benjamins Publishing Company, page 341,
      To begin with, of the two varieties involved in diglossia, the one serving (H)igh societal functions, unlike that reserved for (L)ow ones, is nobody's mother tongue: it is learned in later life largely by formal education, and is not used for ordinary conversation. Secondly, the diglossic contrast concerns widely divergent varieties, as opposed to stylistic contrasts which tend to be small-scale. Moreover, diglossia occurs within a single language, while bilingualism or multilingualism, involve far more divergent linguistic systems.
    • 2000, Joshua A. Fishman, Chapter 3: Bilingualism with and without diglossia; diglossia with and without bilingualism, Li Wei (editor), The Bilingualism Reader, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), page 81,
      It is the purpose of this chapter to relate these two research traditions to each other by tracing the interaction between their two major constructs: bilingualism (on the part of psychologists) and diglossia (on the part of sociologists).
    • 2013, Elien Declercq, Michael Boyden, Multilingualism and Diglossia in Migration Literature: The Case of Flemish Songs in Northern France, Wolfgang Behschnitt, Sarah De Mul, Liesbeth Minnaard (editors), Literature, Language, and Multiculturalism in Scandinavia and the Low Countries, Rodopi, page 20,
      Only very small and isolated communities display neither diglossia nor bilingualism.
  2. (pathology) The presence of a cleft or doubled tongue.
    Synonyms: bifid tongue, cleft tongue

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diglossia f (plural diglossias)

  1. (linguistics) diglossia (the coexistence of two closely related native languages)