Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Definition and Examples of Codification in English

The linguistic term codification refers to the methods by which a language is standardized. These methods include the creation and use of dictionaries, style and usage guides, traditional grammar textbooks, and the like. [S]tandardization aims to ensure fixed values for the counters in a system, wrote James and Lesley Milroy in Authority in Language: Investigating Standard English. In language, this means preventing variability in   spelling  and  pronunciation  by selecting fixed conventions uniquely regarded as correct, establishing correct meanings of words...uniquely acceptable word forms (he does  is acceptable, but  he  do  is not) and fixed conventions of  sentence structure. The term  codification  was popularized in the early 1970s by  linguist  Einar Haugen, who defined it as a process that leads to minimal variation in  form (Dialect, Language, Nation, 1972). The Evolution of English Codification is an ongoing process. The English language evolved over centuries from Old English to Middle English after the Norman Conquest in 1066 to Modern English in about the mid-15th century. For example, different word forms were dropped, such as having nouns with different genders or additional verb forms. The proper order for words in a sentence coalesced (subject-verb-object) and variations (such as verb-subject-object) pretty much disappeared. New words were added, such as 10,000 of them being incorporated from French after the conquest. Some of the duplicate words changed meanings, and some were lost altogether. These are all examples of how the language has codified. Spellings and meanings continue to change and be added to the dictionary today, of course, but the most important period of codification [in English] was probably the 18th century, which saw the publication of hundreds of dictionaries and grammars, including Samuel Johnsons monumental Dictionary of the English Language (1755) [in Great Britain] and Noah Websters The American Spelling Book (1783) in the United States (Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies, 2007). During the languages evolution, Dennis Ager wrote, in the   Language Policy in Britain and France: The Processes of Policy, three influences were...paramount: the kings English, in the form of the administrative and legal language; literary English, in the form of the language accepted as that used by great literature—and for printing and publishing; and Oxford English, or the English of education and the Church—its main provider. At no point in this process was the State openly involved.He continued, Codification also affected the spoken form of the standard language. Received pronunciation was codified through the influence of education, particularly that of the 19th-century public schools, followed from the early 20th century by cinema, radio  and  television (BBC English).  Nonetheless  it is estimated that only 3-5  per cent  of the population of Britain  speak  received pronunciation today...and hence this particular form of the language is accepted by society only in the sense that it is widely understood. Even though English is a flexible language, continually borrowing words from other languages (an estimated 350 different languages, in fact), adding words, definitions, and spellings to the dictionary, the basic grammar and pronunciation ​have remained relatively stable and codified.

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