In sociolinguistics diglossia refers to the use of either different varieties or dialects of the same language in different setting (Ferguson 1959), or to the use of two different languages depending on the setting (Fishman, 1967). Ferguson defines diglossia as:
A relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent, highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any section of the community for ordinary conversation (435).
Fishman 'extends' this idea to include two separate languages, where one language is labelled 'H' and is usually used in official or formal settings, and the second language 'L' is used in private or less formal settings. These settings can be thought of as 'domains' that range from very intimate and private at home, to official government and corporate functions.

A study conducted by Kretzmann (2000) found that among bilingual speakers, 2/3 used only their native (non-English) language at home and in public with other speakers of the native language. One-third used both English and their native language in these settings, and none used only English. At work, 2/3 used English only and 1/3 used both English and their native language, and at school all of the subjects used only English.

See also: linguistics, bilingualism, codified, sociology, pidgeon

- Ferguson, Charles F. (1959). "Diglossia" Word 15: 2.325-40.
- Fishman, Joshua (1967). "Bilingualism with and without diglossia; diglossia with and without bilingualism." Journal of Social Issues 23: 2.29-38.
- Kretzmann, Martin (2000). "Special Study on Diglossia." Albuquerque: Plebius Press, 2000.

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