Dialects may differ from each other in more than one aspects, which include its accent, syntax and vocabulary, and it should be made clear that different accents can still belong in the same dialect (Meyerhoff, 2011). A standard dialect is the most socially acceptable form of a language across all of its speakers in different social groups (Wakelin), and it is considered to be the most ‘proper’ and correct way to speak a certain language.
A dialect becomes a standard dialect when it undergoes the process of standardisation, this makes all the other dialects of the same language non-standard. This leads to a difference in attitudes of the society towards these two types of dialects. Generally, a standard dialect has a higher status and is associated with the educated and the wealthy, this implies relatively negative attitudes are induced for non-standard dialects. On the other hand, negative stereotypes might also be attached to the upper class and hence the standard dialect, furthermore, non-standard dialects are viewed as a better tool for identification with specific groups of which an individual belongs in. This essay will first give a further introduction in the distinction between the two types of dialects, which is followed by the positive views of standard dialects in relation to the negative views of non-standard dialects, then the situations where these attitudes might reverse. Overall, one cannot simply provide a direct answer about the attitudes towards these two types of dialects, since it is determined by the attitudes attached towards their speakers, and this is influenced by sociocultural factors, which is also subject to change any time. The standardisation of a dialect is a direct and deliberate intervention by the society (Hudson), not a property of the language variant itself. The most important element for standardisation is the acceptance among speakers that a certain variety of their language should be used in formal situations and related to the exercise of social power (Meyerhoff, 2011).
The acceptance is usually shown through its use in the authority and codification. Codification is available in the form of dictionaries, style manuals, prototype texts, and the acceptance from the community signified by social institutions such as the government, schools and the mass media (Ryan, Giles and Sebastian). Standard dialects are associated with education, function as gatekeeping norms, establishing who and who will not be able to exercise authority or power; deployed as signs of upward mobility (or aspiration of such) (Meyerhoff 2011)regarded as the model for all those who wished to speak and write ‘well’ (Trudgill, 1995)Hudsonserves as a unifying force for the state as a symbol of its independence of other states; as a marker of its difference some languages are more standard than others eg.
standard French more rigidly codified than standard English Hudsonan addition to the primary dialects of the language, a highly divergent, codified superposed variety the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but not in ordinary conversation of any sector of the communityeg. Standard arabic – no one has the advantage of speaking the standard language as their first language, and it is not determined by the family that they’re born in, but their ability to afford educationMeyerhoff 2011in the case of German, for example,local varieties have strong connotations of naturalness and straightforwardness since it’s required naturally and used in the most informal situations; while standard German is more distant since it is mostly used in public vernacular varieties sound more like an everyday person and standard dialect sounds more authoritative or some standard dialects are only taught in schools and used in speaking in public, not everyday life positive views of standard dialects and negative views of non-standard dialectsprestige and linguistic prejudice of standard dialects (competence, correctness, fluency, confidence)Meyerhoff 2011Overt prestige: generally recognised as better and more positive by the wider communitycovert prestige: status or features of a dialect which have positive values but limited to its speakers, and not valued similarly in the wider communityTrudgill 1995Standard English has much more status and prestige than any other English dialect, highly valued by many peoplecertain economic, social and political benefits tend to accrue to those who speak and write it widely considered as correct, beautiful, nice, pure, etcnon standard varieties usually thought as wrong, ugly, corrupt, lazy, which leads to the view that they are deviations from a norm, due to laziness, ignorance or lack of intelligence, to the extent which people who speak English as first language are persuaded that they ‘can’t speak English’. attitudes towards non-standard dialects are attitudes which reflect the social structure of societyFor example, accents that do not have non-prevocalic /r/, are considered to have higher status and more correct than other accents, non-prevocalic /r/ commonly used on television to indicate a rural or uneducated character this it the opposite in New York City, the pronunciation without /r/ is socially stigmatised dialects are believed to be inadequate for certain tasks and cannot be used for educational or intellectual purposes – in English, French, Polish, but not necessarily (eg. in Norway/ Switzerland)A study done by Rosenthal (1974) has shown that children as young as 3 years old already have linguistic prejudice between standard and non-standard dialects in the US. Children were presented with two identical cardboard boxes with faces painted on them, each containing a recorded tape and a hidden present. They listened to it, one spoke in Standard English and the other spoke in non-standard Black speech (different in pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax), both had similar content describing the present. They were then asked to choose one of the boxes and take the present out and were asked a few questions, and found that children had linguistic prejudice that are really similar to that of adults.
79% said that the standard head spoke better, and 73% said that they had expected a better present from the ‘standard’ box. Almost all white children recognised the non-standard box as a black person, and 72% thought the other was a white person. White children and their parents willingly expressed highly pejorative attitudes towards the non-standard voice. While for black children, almost half took the present from the non-standard box, despite most of them having thought that the other had a better present.
This reflects the attitude among non-standard adult speakers, in which standard speakers are generally perceived to be wealthy and successful, but not likable or trustworthy. On the other hand, there are also situations where positive views are formed about non-standard dialects and negative views on standard dialects. People use language to locate themselves and others in a multi-dimensional social space, therefore, dialects communicate information about what kind of person they are or would like to be (Hudson, 1980). This implies that the attitudes associated with a certain dialect is based on the society’s view on its speakers, and this is called linguistic prejudice. This implies that a dialect’s speakers determines how a certain dialect is viewed, this also applies to standard dialects. Even though standard dialects are generally associated with the upper class and the educated, it does not always have a positive attitude attached to it, for example, some non-standard dialect speakers may attach negative image to the standard dialect as the upper class might be viewed as cold, unfriendly and unreliable (Hudson, 1980).
Although non-standard dialects are generally considered less valued than standard dialects, they are viewed favourably by its own speakers as an identification of the specific groups that they belong to. Strongman and Woosley (1967) have demonstrated that although non standard varieties in the UK are rated less favourably on competence, it is viewed favourably by their speakers with regard to personal integrity and social attractiveness. people use their speech to identify with a particular social groupsocial psychologists have claimed that people like to think the group to which they belong is better than others with which it can be compared, therefore, a speaker of a non-standard dialect might not necessarily think that the standard dialect is better than their own even non-standard dialect communities would think that their own way of speaking is the best defining arbitrary, neutral characteristics as better than others in order to boost self-esteem of the grouphowever, the opposite may also happen, where a dialect community thinks that they speak worse than other communities ? linguistic insecurity (Labov 1972)eg. dialect in Glasgow (Macaulay 1975) believe that they should speak differently because the other dialects are highly valued and their own is rejected by the wider communitysome non-standard varieties may been seen to reflect friendliness and warmth, and may serve as a bonding or solidarity function (Edwards). An example is Walloon speakers in Belgium who speak a dialect of French (Bourhis).
Initially, Paris was considered as their cultural and intellectual capital and hence Standard French remained as the prestige form for francophones in Belgium, this was also encouraged through school and media. In comparison, the Walloon dialect was considered to have ‘regional flaws’ and is less valued than Standard French. However, more recently, while the Walloon speakers are in conflict with their Flemish neighbour, there has been a change in the value of the Walloon dialect, in which there was an emergence of a more self-conscious Walloon identity that takes pride in its distinctive Walloon dialect, and have reported a facility in using the dialect and enjoyed speaking it.
Despite the Standard dialect still being viewed as the most prestige (and still preferable in formal situations), the non-standard dialect had been chosen by its speakers to express individuality and unite all its speakers