Diacronia 10, November 7, 2019, art. A142 (p. 1–44)

From language standards to a Standard Language: The case of Modern Greek

Spiros A. Moschonas


Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 1 Sofocleous Str., 10559 Athens, Greece


Received July 1, 2019
Accepted August 12, 2019
Published November 7, 2019

Key words

history of language


This study looks for changes in a standard variety through changes in that variety’s standards. It concentrates on the continuing process of the standardization of Modern Greek and it discusses: a) an inaugural change in status planning involving the shift from Jannis Psycharis’s codification of Modern Greek to a more “permissive” codification by Manolis Triantaphyllidis; b) the propagation of linguistic standards on a mass scale through the print and electronic media after the resolution of the “Greek Language Question”; c) the process of “de-ideologization” or “naturalization” of the established norms; d) a relatively recent instance of stylization of a certain highly prescribed variant (nasalization of voiced stops), which possibly marks a new phase in the standardization process.

The four cases of changing standards are discussed under a performative theory of standardization. A corpus-driven approach is employed that concentrates on correctives (metalinguistic speech acts of the type: “one should neither say nor write X; instead, one should say or write Y”) and permissives (“one may say or write either X or Y provided that C”). Such triplets are located in texts that prescribe on language usage. A variety of such texts is taken into consideration: institutional Grammars, advice columns in the Greek newspapers, relevant radio and television broadcasts, Style Guides addressed both to the general public and to the media professionals.

It is shown that correctives and/or permissives form repertories that change over time. Such changes in language standards account for changes in the standard language. According to the performative theory, standard languages are subject to restandardization as language standards are subject to redefinition. The changes in corrective repertories bear testimony to a process of a continuing standardization of Modern Greek. This process is shown to be mediated, i.e. it has affected and has been affected by prescriptive practices in the print and electronic media.


  • Full text (in English; 44 p., 2 MB)
  • 2 references and 0 citations in BDD
  • Export citation
    Text:Moschonas, S. A. (2019). From language standards to a Standard Language: The case of Modern Greek, Diacronia 10 (November 7), A142 (1–44),
    BibTeX:@ARTICLE{a. moschonas2019,
     author = {Spiros A. Moschonas},
     title = {From language standards to a Standard Language: The case of Modern Greek},
     journal = {Diacronia},
     ISSN = {2393-1140},
     year = {2019},
     month = {November},
     number = {10},
     eid = {A142},
     doi = {},
     pages = "(1–44)",
     url = {}


© 2019 The Authors. Publishing rights belong to the Journal. The article is freely accessible under the terms and conditions of the CC-BY Open Access licence.

Statistics (RO/EN/Total)

  • Views (this page): 1121 / 1855 / 2976

  • Downloads (full text): 1715 / 2120 / 3835