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Attitudes to Standard British English and Standard Polish

A Study in Normative Linguistics and Comparative Sociolinguistics


Maciej Rataj

The book provides a new insight into English-Polish comparative sociolinguistics by comparing and contrasting the attitudes of young adult native speakers of British English and Polish towards the standard varieties of their mother tongues. The author reviews the Anglophone and Polish approaches to standard dialects and language standardization, integrating sociolinguistics, normative linguistics and prescriptivism. The core of the work presents and analyses the results of a questionnaire-based study of language attitudes conducted at several Polish and British universities. In conclusion, the author places the two groups of informants on a spectrum of language attitudes ranging from purism to tolerance of non-standard varieties.
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Chapter 5 The functions of the standard dialect


Standard dialects are frequently characterized not by direct reference to codification or prestige but by description of the areas of life in which they are employed. Since in most cases standard varieties are developed in and imposed upon a naturally multidialectal society for the sake of serving official channels of communication with that society (among other purposes), the notions of the official dialect and the standard dialect can be expected to be practically the same to numerous non-linguists. The definitions elicited from the informants and presented in Chapter 4 show that many of them define SBE or SP precisely as the dialect used in certain spheres, including official affairs connected with government institutions as well as with various levels of education. According to sociolinguistic literature, the functions of standard dialects are associated with writing more than speech as writing in the standard dialect remains the domain of documents, the press and a large part of the Internet, excepting the unedited texts of social media and chat rooms.

The official uses of SBE and SP are the focus of this chapter, which investigates three topics. Firstly, it gathers the opinions elicited through the open question of what areas of life SBE or SP should be used in. The modality expressed by the word should was of course intended: in this way the respondents were asked to express their opinions instead of presenting their knowledge, unlike in some other open questions discussed in the previous chapter. By enquiring about the...

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