from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sociolinguistic phenomenon in which complementary social functions are distributed between a prestigious or formal variety and a common or colloquial variety of a language, as in Greek, Tamil, or Scottish English.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the coexistence of two closely related native languages or dialects among a certain population, one of which is regarded to be more prestigious than the other; also, that of two unrelated languages
  • n. the presence of a cleft or doubled tongue

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A condition of having a double tongue.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

From Greek diglōssos, speaking two languages : di-, two; see di-1 + glōssa, tongue, language.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the New Latin diglōssia, from the French diglossie, from the Ancient Greek δίγλωσσος (diglōssos, "bilingual") + -ία (-ia, whence the French -ie and the English -ia).


  • The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia, which is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language, usually in different social situations.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Arabic Language Expertise in the Military

  • Not to mention some really fascinating works dealing with language and power, pidgins, diglossia, and creoles – the latter being an interesting case, because the term itself refers to a pidgin that becomes a language in its own right, but technically means “blackened”, and was originally something of a slur itself!

    When keeping it partisan goes wrong (IV) - Beyond The Commons -

  • The part at the end about diglossia and code switching is relevant for me.

    Archive 2005-11-01

  • As for the classical/colloquial split in Arabic, the last I knew people were starting to think that the diglossia has always been there, that is that both a high and low form were exported from the Arabian peninsula. HEBREW OR ISRAELI?

  • But considering the diglossia of modern Arabic (and the various sources of modern Iraqi Arabic), I don't find it difficult at all to believe that native speakers might have erroneous(sp?) or conflicting ideas about what things mean. ABU GHRAIB.

  • Thus the assumption of a substantial diglossia in Anglo-Saxon England helps to explain why, after the removal of the Anglo-Saxon elite, Middle English dialect writing appears to feature such "sudden" innovations emanating or radiating from the two focal centres in the North and in the South West. FREE HIGHBEAM TRIAL.

  • This paper suggests that diglossia in caste-like Anglo-Saxon societies consisted of OE.sub. FREE HIGHBEAM TRIAL.

  • Bakhtin argued that diglossia - the presence of more than one voice in a text - is partly what makes the text interesting.

    I'd Rather Be Writing - Tom Johnson


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • See also ecotone.

    April 3, 2015

  • For Ernest's full regional dossier
    He heeds both the rough and the flossier
    For those linguistic hints
    Marking pauper and prince
    That outline the local diglossia.

    Find out more about Ernest Bafflewit

    July 8, 2014