Standard Language - Examples


Arabic comprises many varieties (many mutually unintelligible), that are considered a single language, because the standard Arabic register, Modern Standard Arabic, is generally intelligible to all speakers. It is based upon modified Classical Arabic, the language of the Qur'an, the contemporary refined vernacular of Muhammad’s time, the 7th century CE.

The Chinese language (漢語) comprises a wide varieties of spoken forms, which are known as fangyan (方言, “regional speech”). The major spoken variants are (i) Mandarin, (ii) Wu, (iii) Yue, and (iv) Min. These spoken variants are not mutually intelligible, so referring to them by the English term “dialect” is inaccurate, since this generally denotes mutual intelligibility. Standard Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, and is the official language of the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Republic of Singapore. It is called Putonghua (普通话, “common speech”) in the PRC, Guoyu (國語, “national language”) in Taiwan, and Huayu (华语, “Chinese language”) in Singapore.

The Chinese language also enjoys official status in Hong Kong (together with English) and in Macau (together with Portuguese). However, Standard Chinese is not widely spoken in these territories. The majority of the population speaks, and often writes, Cantonese.

In British English the standard, known as Standard English (SE), is historically based on the language of the medieval English court of Chancery. The late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the establishment of this standard as the norm of "polite" society, that is to say of the upper classes. The spoken standard has come to be seen as a mark of good education and social prestige. Although often associated with the RP accent, SE can be spoken with any accent.

The dialects of American English vary throughout the US, but the General American accent is the unofficial standard language for being considered accentless; it is based on Midwestern English, distributed within an isogloss area encompassing the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and to some extent Nebraska.

The basic structure and words of standard Finnish (yleiskieli) are mostly based upon the dialects of Western Finland, because Mikael Agricola, who codified the written language in the sixteenth century, was from Turku, the regional centre of the time. Finnish was developed to integrate all of the nation’s dialects, and so yield a logical language for proper written communication. One aim was national unification, in accordance to the nationalistic principle; the second aim was linguistic regularity and consistency, even if contradicting general colloquial usage, e.g. in Standard Finnish, ruoka becomes ruoan, and the pronunciation is ruuan.

Parisian French is the standard in French literature.

Standard German was developed for several centuries, during which time writers tried to write in a way intelligible to the greatest number of readers and speakers, thus, until about 1800, Standard German was mostly a written language. In that time, northern Germany spoke Low German dialects much different from Standard German. Later, the Northern pronunciation of written German became considered as the universal standard; in Hanover, because of that adoption, the local dialect disappeared.

The Standard form of Modern Greek is based on the Southern dialects; these dialects are spoken mainly in the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands, Attica, Crete and the Cyclades. However the Northerners call this dialect, and the Standard form, 'Atheneika' which means 'the Athens dialect'. This form is also official in Cyprus, where people speak a South-Eastern dialect (dialects spoken in the Dodecanese and Cyprus), Cypriot Greek.

Two standardized registers of the Hindustani language have legal status India: Standard Hindi (one of 23 co-official national languages) and Urdu (Pakistan’s official tongue), resultantly, Hindustani often called “Hindi-Urdu”.

Standard Italian derives from the city speech of Florence and the regional speech of Tuscany: the Florentine influence upon early Italian literature (e.g. Divine Comedy) established that dialect as base for the standard language of Italy.

In Norwegian there are two parallel standard languages: (i) Bokmål (partly derived from the local pronunciation of Danish, when Denmark ruled Norway), (ii) Nynorsk (comparatively derived from Norwegian dialects).

Portuguese has two official written standards, (i) Brazilian Portuguese (used chiefly in Brazil) and (ii) European Portuguese (used in Portugal and Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe). The written standards slightly differ in spelling and vocabulary, and are legally regulated. Unlike the written language, however, there is no spoken-Portuguese official standard, but the European Portuguese reference pronunciation is the educated speech of Lisbon.

In Brazil, actors and journalists usually adopt an unofficial, but de facto, spoken standard Portuguese, originally derived from the middle-class dialect of Rio de Janeiro, but that now comprehends educated urban pronunciations from the different speech communities in the southeast. In that standard, represents the phoneme /s/ when it appears at the end of a syllable (whereas in Rio de Janeiro this represents /ʃ/) the rhotic consonant spelled is pronounced in the same situation (whereas in São Paulo this is usually an alveolar flap or trill). European and African dialects have differing realizations of /ʁ/ than Brazilian dialects, with the former using and and the latter using, or . Between vowels, represents /ɾ/ for most dialects.

Four standard variants of the pluricentric Serbo-Croatian are spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. They all have the same dialect basis (Štokavian). These variants do differ slightly, as is the case with other pluricentric languages. The differences between the variants do not hinder mutual intelligibility and do not undermine the integrity of the system as a whole. Compared to the differences between the variants of English, German, French, Spanish, or Portuguese, the distinctions between the variants of Serbo-Croatian are less significant. Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro in their constitution have all named the language differently.

In Spain, Standard Spanish is based upon the speech of educated speakers from Castile and León. In Argentina and Uruguay the Spanish standard is based on the local dialects of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. This is known as Rioplatense Spanish (“River Plate Spanish”), distinguishable, from other standard Spanishes, by the greater use of the voseo.

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