edited by Reglindis De Ridder

Sociolinguists are studying language use in all kinds of spoken, written, and audiovisual media. Similarly, language attitude towards language use, and also the impact of media on language change is investigated. Some of these media are scripted and professionally produced, such as news broadcasts, dubbed films, and podcasts, while other media, like video blogs or posts on social media, are not necessarily. Media creators often, but not always, adhere to linguistic guidelines or language policies. They may also, sometimes without knowing it, follow certain established linguistic practices, or deliberately challenge these. In pluricentric language areas, when language is used in the media, decisions are often made in terms of which language variety to use. Such decisions usually take into consideration the main target audience. Sometimes an attempt is made to use a so-called “neutral variety”, unmarked for any specific part of the language area, to cater to the larger language area as a whole. This one-size-fits-all approach, however, is challenged by glocalisation tendencies and calls for more linguistic diversity. Moreover, the Age of Streaming opened up new possibilities with several language versions that can be offered on demand (including media accessibility). Dutch-language audiobooks, for instance, can sometimes be streamed in a Belgian and a Netherlandic Dutch version. Likewise, some audiovisual fiction for children is available in a Belgian and Netherlandic Dutch dubbed version on streaming platforms.

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published by PCL-PRESS (Graz/Berlin)

March 18, 2023 | 268 pages | ISBN 978-3-757530-20-4

The individual chapters of the publication are available open access.

TOC of “One size fits all”? Linguistic standards in the media of pluricentric language areas


Pluricentric languages, role of media | p. 1 |

“Sounds odd to hear American actors speaking like us!” Attitudes towards Quebec French in the context of foreign film dubbing

by , , ,

Quebec French, dubbing | pp. 334 |

Quebec French (QF) is often cited as a language variety that has “freed itself” from the exogenous French standard. However, when foreign media is dubbed in Quebec, the variety used is almost always so-called international French (IF). The dubbing industry asserts that this choice is a response to public expectations, but little is actually known about the linguistic attitudes of the Québécois in this regard. Our study, therefore, seeks to establish a portrait of Quebecers’ attitudes towards foreign films dubbed in IF, standard QF (SQF), and colloquial QF (CQF). Using a matched guise technique, we designed an attitude test in which we presented Québécois respondents (n=210) with 36 randomly ordered stimuli: twelve foreign-film excerpts, dubbed in each of the three varieties, by the same voice actors. Respondents were asked to score the dubbed voices on a number of personal attributes, traditionally related to either in-group solidarity or socioeconomic status. Inferential analyses by language variety, test format (audiovisual or audio-only), film genre, character gender, and respondent demographics (age, gender, education, film viewing habits) revealed that CQF voices receive the least positive evaluations. Instead, respondents preferred voices in IF, and in specific conditions, SQF, regardless of test format. We argue that linguistic insecurity or long-term listening habits might account for IF being the expected variety for film dubbing in Quebec.

Media policy as language policy: The case of South Estonian


Media policy, South Estonian | pp. 3554 |

The Republic of Estonia is home to several linguistic communities, including minorities who associate their linguistic identity with languages other than Standard Estonian. Apart from the large Russian minority, the situation of the second largest minority, the South Estonians, is less widely known. While all South Estonians speak Standard Estonian fluently, language policy measures for their languages are frequently subsumed under planning for the standard variety. This denies the communities their South Estonian identity and regularly undermines their claims for support of language revitalisation. This also affects media in Estonian varieties, as many media functions for the South Estonians are replaced by Standard Estonian media. This chapter has a tripartite focus in the analysis of the Estonian media landscape: First, it presents the sociolinguistic situation in Estonia and relevant language policy measures. Second, it discusses media from the perspective of linguistic minorities. Third, following from this discussion, the chapter concludes with a general discussion about the relationship between a minority language’s conceptualisation as a dialect and its representation in the media. The conflation of identity, language, and media policy in the Estonian contexts, proves harmful to the Estonian varieties other than the Literary Standard.

The role of the media in the development of Belarusian Russian


Belarusian Russian, media usage, language development | pp. 5579 |

This chapter aims to explore the role of the media in the development of Belarusian Russian. The focus is on the lexical features of the variety and metalinguistic awareness of its speakers. The chapter demonstrates that the norms of Belarusian Russian are implicit since they are elaborated in model texts, in which more specifically digital media come to the forefront, and are not codified in dictionaries and grammar books. The study reveals that new media (e.g. blogs) and more traditional media (e.g. newspapers) are similar in terms of reflecting the lexical characteristics of the variety: 96% of lexical variants found in the new media are used also in the traditional ones. The chapter also highlights the role of the media in the further development of Belarusian Russian in the current socio-political context. Due to the polarisation of society and the introduction of censorship in the media, variety is developing in divided communicative communities. Intense migration and the banning of the major independent media impacted the Belarusian variety of the Russian language also evolving beyond Belarus – in communicative communities of people who maintain close ties with their country of origin.

Language ideologies of Chile’s Spanish on digital media: Rethinking the value of standard language in contemporary circulations


Chilean Spanish, Language ideologies, standard language | pp. 81102 |

This chapter addresses some representations of Spanish in Chile found on digital ideospaces between 2017 and 2022, including Internet channels from traditional media and social media content managed from Chile. Its theoretical framework lies within the methodological and disciplinary field of language ideologies. The analysis confirmed the prevalence of a negative view of Chile’s Spanish in the corpus. This variety also persists as a mark of national identity, mainly through stereotypical humour. Paradoxically, the corpus suggests that standard Spanish, the dialects associated with it, and Chile’s upper-class variety are not widely valued as positive either. This informs of a sociolinguistic system where models of correctness are either not culturally relevant or not necessarily located in the expected places (i.e., local elites and transnational models). An invisibilisation of Spanish language normativity aligns with its anonymity in the Chilean context, which entails hegemony, transparency, and delocalisation. Critically, however, “hablar mal” [speaking poorly] is immediately associated with lower status, poverty, criminality, youth culture, and even racist tropes. Also, it is a weapon commonly used against language reform, particularly proposed grammar and spelling regulation changes, motivated by a political desire for gender inclusivity or equality. These tensions and contradictions open new debates on the notion of “dominant variety” among experts.

Pluricentricity, linguistic practices and language conflict: An outlook on the Catalan case


Catalan, pluricentric mechanisms, translations | pp. 103120 |

his chapter offers an outlook on the pluricentric mechanisms in Catalan and analyses how they are implemented by various political powers. Some examples from literary and audiovisual mass products, such as Harry Potter, are discussed to illustrate these mechanisms and how they are differently perceived. Translation is highlighted as a language planning tool applied to texts that are seen as foreign to the language community, as any geographical variation cannot be justified because of the original author’s foreign background. Translation can be used both to promote a plural and cohesive view of the language, by integrating the geographical variation from different norm centres in the language standard, or favouring the speaker’s fragmentary perceptions, either focusing on one only codification centre or creating parallel multiversions of these products, depending on the purpose behind the language planning. Following a comparative standardology perspective, this chapter points out the achievements, as well as the weak points to overcome if a completed standardisation process is targeted, i.e. the total implementation of the language would assure its continuity in the future, contributing to the linguistic diversity in a plural world.

Exploring language norms in podcasts distributed by a public service broadcaster in the Finland-Swedish mediascape

by , , ,

Finland Swedish, Podcasts, linguistic diversity | pp. 121144 |

Swedish has been described as a pluricentric language with a dominant variety in Sweden and a non-dominant variety in Finland, finlandssvenska [Finland Swedish], where it enjoys official status, but is only spoken by a relatively small minority of the population. Both national varieties of Swedish have their own national spoken standards, which are used, for instance, by the public service broadcaster Svenska Yle in Finland in its TV and radio news. Podcasts are a fairly recent addition to the mediascape. The questions we address in this chapter include whether podcasts, nowadays also part of public service broadcasting, are changing the conceptions of the Finland-Swedish spoken standard, and how podcasters position themselves in relation to standards in Sweden and Finland, but also to more regional and local varieties. Our analysis considers the opinions of both media producers and consumers collected through interviews and a web survey. The results suggest there is more openness towards linguistic diversity in audio media, while at the same time the spoken standard of the non-dominant variety, Finland Swedish, continues to be relevant and is generally highly esteemed.

Linguistic standards and model speakers: Journalists’ views on media’s role for Swedish in Finland


Finland Swedish, role of media, journalists views | pp. 145173 |

Finlandssvenska [Finland Swedish] is (1) a national language in Finland, (2) spoken by a minority of the population. It is also 3) a non-dominant variety of Swedish. These three facts affect the status of Finland Swedish. The only national arena where spoken Finland Swedish is displayed to a greater extent are the Swedish programs produced by Svenska Yle, the Swedish program department of the Finnish Public Service Broadcasting Company Yle. To get a deeper understanding of the role of media for Finland Swedish, a qualitative analysis was conducted focusing on how journalists working at Svenska Yle see Yle’s mission for the Swedish language in Finland. The analysis shows three prominent views. First of all, we see a top-down-model where Yle should provide a language model for the speech community. Many journalists see themselves as so-called model speakers. Secondly, there is a bottom-up-model, where Yle should be a mirror of the linguistic variation in society. This is especially reflected in its use of dialects as part of a Finland-Swedish identity. Thirdly, Yle is seen to have a language policy mission in strengthening the vitality of Finland Swedish and enhancing its status in society. This is done by keeping the language vibrant and viable in all kinds of modern-day situations and giving it a visible platform, but also by Svenska Yle’s journalists acting as ambassadors for the Swedish language in Finland. All three roles affecting the status of Finland Swedish can be seen in the journalists’ arguments. They focus mainly on Finland Swedish as a national variety in its own right, enhancing its uniqueness and the language group identity in relation to both the dominant variety Sweden Swedish and the national majority language Finnish.

Analysing language shifts across time and genres: Indian English between variability and stabilization


Indian English, Indianness, standardisation | pp. 175196 |

The study of Indian English (IndE) as a ‘special’ post-colonial variety among the plethora of New Englishes dates back to the early 1960s when the local features of IndE contributing to ‘The Indianness of Indian English’ (Braj Kachru 1965, 1983) started to be described in great detail at different language levels. Nonetheless, the difficulty in establishing a fixed set of ‘pan-Indian’ norms emerges from recent studies of register variation in IndE (Chandrika Balasubramanian 2009) that, given its heterogeneous nature, disprove the idea of IndE as a single language variety. Starting from the assumption that comparisons between present-day British English and the parent variety cannot explain to what extent a new postcolonial variety of English has diverged across time from the historical input variety, the chapter focuses on the spread of Indian words across time and registers reinforcing the idea of Indianness that characterises the process of standardisation IndE is currently undergoing. The corpus used in the study combines data from a Diachronic Corpus of Indian English (henceforth DiCIE) specifically compiled for a diachronic investigation concerning the years 1909-2010, including written (press editorials, letters to the editor, blogs) and oral texts (broadcast news, legal cross-examinations) and parallel selected sections of the Indian component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-IND. Following a procedure adopted in recent studies on the automatic detection and extraction of semantically and grammatically annotated data, corpus-based evidence and linguistic diagnostics were matched to shed light on norms or shared language habits as well as trends towards the stabilisation and standardisation within the same ‘non-native- British’ variety in a certain time span.

TV news in Italian-speaking Switzerland: Linguistic authorities and standard-setting

by ,

Swiss Italian, TV news, linguistic norms | pp. 197219 |

In this contribution, we examine the Swiss and Italian varieties of Italian and the dissemination of their linguistic norms within the media domain, focussing on TV news. A qualitative analysis of a small corpus of news television programmes was carried out to that end. The aim was to conduct a contrastive study providing data on the presence of geographical variants in the two varieties of Italian under scrutiny. We therefore explored the use that regional TV news programmes make of non-standard linguistic phenomena taking the language of the national dominant variety as a control language. Our corpus consists of a selection of recent daily news programmes, aired respectively by the Swiss Italian TV channel RSI, an Italian national TV channel and an Italian regional TV channel. The data showed that there is a significant difference between the two varieties of Italian in terms of the presence of geographically marked traits in the media. We also identified criteria for determining which regional features are more prone to enter the non-dominant standard through exposure to these features in the media.

The Globo Media Group and the consolidation of a Brazilian Portuguese standard variety

by ,

Brazilian Portuguese, Globo Media Group, Brazilian standard | pp. 221240 |

Brazilian and European Portuguese form the prototype of two dominant varieties of the pluricentric language Portuguese. The media conglomerate Globo, as a leading media giant, plays a central role for the consolidation of a Brazilian standard through the broadcast news programme Jornal Nacional and the dramaturgical genre telenovela. In Brazil we have a linguistic community, in which the standard of the written language (norma-padrão) still corresponds to a variety (European Portuguese) that is far removed from the linguistic reality of the speakers. Television, to which most of the population has access, is crucial to the consolidation of the emergent standard variety (Brazilian Portuguese). The aim of our chapter is to present the importance of those two programme formats for a standard of Brazilian Portuguese. For this we will look in more detail at the movement verbs ir and chegar with prepositions a/para and em to express change of place, as well as the construction of relative clauses. Furthermore, the impact of Globo productions for the whole Portuguese-speaking world will be discussed because of the strong impact of the soap operas (telenovelas) in Portugal and in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa (PALOP). We will conclude our contribution by emphasizing the importance of TV Globo as a reflection of language practices of Brazilian speakers and its importance as a reference model for consolidation and development of the “new” dominant variety: Brazilian Portuguese.

The struggle for recognition of Austrian German: The exercise of soft power by means of language policies


Austrian German, language violence, language policies | pp. 241261 |

As a non-dominant variety of a pluricentric language, little recognition is bestowed upon Austrian German outside Austria in teaching practises of German as a foreign language. It is also only marginally represented in the media and often dismissed as a less valid standard variation, or even considered a non-standard dialect. The reasons for the struggle for recognition of Austrian German – in reference to philosophical discourses on recognition in connection to G.W.F. Hegel – can be classified as cases of epistemic deficiency and are strongly related to cultural imprint. My thesis is that speakers of Austrian German are often the subject of institutionalised language violence and receive little public visibility outside of Austria. This is in particular the case for the representation in media, arts, and in contexts of language acquisition. In this chapter, I will argue that the state of recognition of a non-dominant variety of a language is closely related to language policies in place and is an important aspect for the exercise of “soft power”. Language policies can contribute to symmetrical relations of recognition and allow for language benefaction (Rieger 2022).