Most standard city/area

Penyafort

Senior Member
Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
Which area or town is often referred to in language books or regarded by most native speakers as the closest to the conventional standard of the language(s) you speak in your country?

Is it based on the formal speech of little towns around the capital city? On a sociolect used at some particular places? On a written construct nobody speaks natively?
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Standard German is an artificial construct which barely anyone speaks natively.

    There area around Hanover is said to be the place where you can hear the purest standard German. High German replaced the originally spoken Low German dialects there but unlike in places like Hamburg or Mecklenburg, no trace of a Low German accent can be heard when they speak.
     
    Last edited:

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    Which area or town is often referred to in language books or regarded by most native speakers as the closest to the conventional standard of the language(s) you speak in your country?
    In Spain, Valladolid is often quoted as the reference for the standard. On the Americas and other Spanish speaking countries, I guess they'll have their own references (if any).
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    In Greece, the standard language was based on the southern dialects and specially Peloponnese. Nowadays, it's the capital city where you definitely hear the standard language, but in other regions as well with smaller or bigger differences. Of course, there are also dialects with great distance from standard.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    There area around Hanover is said to be the place where you can hear the purest standard German. High German replaced the originally spoken Low German dialects there but unlike in places like Hamburg or Mecklenburg, no trace of a Low German accent can be heard when they speak.

    That's something that has always struck me about German, as I think it's a very unique case.

    In Spain, Valladolid is often quoted as the reference for the standard.

    I've always heard/read it too. But then, when I hear someone from Valladolid use laísmo, it gets on my nerves. :p

    In Romania, Bucharest is the city
    Nowadays, it's the capital city where you definitely hear the standard language

    In many countries the capital city is taken as a reference but at the same time it seems to have a particular recognizable accent of its own that differs a bit from the norm and can even be imitated/mocked. Would it also be the case for Bucharest and Athens?
     

    jmx

    Senior Member
    Spain / Spanish
    In Spain, Valladolid is often quoted as the reference for the standard.
    It is quoted basically by functionally illiterate people. As I said in other thread, the link between Valladolid and Standard Spanish is the same as between storks and baby births.
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    But then, when I hear someone from Valladolid use laísmo, it gets on my nerves.
    :D:D
    It is quoted basically by functionally illiterate people.
    It's said that Madame d'Aulnoy is who started the myth. She was told that the best one was the one from Valladolid and she believed it, wrote it in a book and the readers believed her... and the myth remains alive nowadays till the point that if you ask a bunch of people in Spain about the closest to standard Spanish, it's likely that Valladolid would be the most frequent answer.
    As I said in other thread, the link between Valladolid and Standard Spanish is the same as between storks and baby births.
    Well, it's a bit closer, isn't it?
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    In Mexico, due to history and the sheer quantity of people, the Spanish of the capital is considered standard, i.e. national media tends to sound closer to how they speak, however due to the huge size and mountainous terrain, until fairly recently there wasn't as much influence from the capital in the far-flung corners of the Republic, and various distint idiolects persist (in part, I think, due to a collective annoyance with chilangos, who have a reputation for arrogance and refer to anybody who's not from Estado de México as "provincianos")(also, chilangos have a very particular and vast coloquial lexicon and distinctive accent that are recognized and mocked by all, even among the capitalinos, although this tends to be, or at least can be a mockery of their socioeconomic situation).
    But, for example, Monterrey is a huge and important city in the north and provides a cultural centre for the north(east), and places like Oaxaca and Chiapas and the Yucatán are far from the DF with incredibly rich indigenous cultures and lots of people who live (semi-)rural lives, so they adopt the more "standard" Mexican Spanish when they leave their regions, but they definitely have their own local standards choc-full of standard borrowings from the local languages.
    But what's "pure"? In the far north you can still hear people say "truje" for "traje" or "ansina" for "así" in the far south (along with mannnnnny other examples) which are closer to the Spanish spoken by the conquistadors than the "standard".


    As for Canada, it's pretty boring. We don't have very big dialectal differences outside of the East Coast. Toronto is the official cultural centre as far as media is concerned, but there's nothing marked about how they speak (save a few pronunciations of some words by some people which is indicative of someone born and raised in the GTA, like the word "out"), plus people from all over the country live there.
     
    Last edited:

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    Italian was mainly based on the Romance language spoken in Tuscany in the late Middle Ages, that of Florence being the most prestigeous variety.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    I read in this forum that Hanover has (or is said to have) the purest Hochdeutsch because unlike the rest of Northern Germany where Low German remains alive, albeit in a precarious state, in Hanover and its surroundings it has completely vanished.

    In Catalonia this would be Barcelona or the Barcelona region. Sociolects exist and much of the younger generation in the area has some Castilianized phonology, but the "most neuter" accent is still the traditional one from Barcelona and surroundings by sheer population weight.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    I read in this forum that Hanover has (or is said to have) the purest Hochdeutsch because unlike the rest of Northern Germany where Low German remains alive, albeit in a precarious state, in Hanover and its surroundings it has completely vanished.

    Low German was replace by High German in a lot of areas, e.g. Brandenburg, northern Saxony-Anhalt, parts of Northrhine-Westphalia but in most areas people have a regional accent (in High German). I don't know why this didn't happen in the Hanover area.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    In many countries the capital city is taken as a reference but at the same time it seems to have a particular recognizable accent of its own that differs a bit from the norm and can even be imitated/mocked. Would it also be the case for Bucharest and Athens?
    As far as I can tell, this isn’t the case for Athens.
     
    Last edited:

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Italian was mainly based on the Romance language spoken in Tuscany in the late Middle Ages, that of Florence being the most prestigeous variety.
    I agree, but would add that even nowadays Tuscany is the region where the best Italian is spoken - although some minor deviations from the standard pronunciation have eventually occurred there, too - particularly in the speech of uneducated locals.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Last edited:

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    So as I take it, the idea is Italian stems from medieval Tuscan, but since that time Tuscan has continued evolving and has diverged significantly from Italian. Therefore standard Italian in its best accentless form is somewhat archaic in nature as it preserves a way of speaking that was typical of Tuscany in the past.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Therefore standard Italian in its best accentless form is somewhat archaic in nature as it preserves a way of speaking that was typical of Tuscany in the past.
    I reckon that it is a bit disputable. According to some scholars those features I mentioned above, that is to say, the Tuscan Gorgia, were already present as early as the Middle Ages or even before in Tuscany. They were not adopted by Standard Italian essentially for two reasons:
    1) they were not represented in written form
    2) they were not shared with other Italian dialects/languages.
    For instance, other phonetic features were retained by standard Italian essentially because they were used elsewhere too, such as open/closed vowels and syntactic doubling, the latter in central and southern Italy.
     
    Last edited:

    danielstan

    Senior Member
    Romanian - Romania
    In many countries the capital city is taken as a reference but at the same time it seems to have a particular recognizable accent of its own that differs a bit from the norm and can even be imitated/mocked. Would it also be the case for Bucharest and Athens?
    Not the case of Bucharest. The language spoken in television or radio is identical with the language spoken on the street in Bucharest and in the entire Muntenia region (there are no dialectal differences from city to city).

    Interesting fact: in Republic of Moldova there is a new generation of politicians (the so-called pro-europeans) who got their academic degrees in Romania and it's noticeable that some of them are trying to speak the Bucharest dialect in their own country. Sometimes they succeed to speak fluently without any provincial pronounciation, some other times they pronounce in Moldovan dialect 1-2 words in a sentence.
    Dorin Chirtoacă is such a politician that amazed me with his pronounciation of standard Romanian when speaking on Romanian televisions or radios.
    But this is not a general phenomenon in Moldovan society.

    I just gave an example of the prestige that the standard language has in Romania, thus nobody is mocking the Bucharest dialect here.
     
    Last edited:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    My mother tongue is Polish, and in Poland it is impossible to identify any area where people speak more standard than in other places. I don't know the geographic origins of the contemporary standard Polish, but I suppose that it may be a fusion of Greater Poland (Poznan) and Mazovia (Warsaw) dialects. Warsaw had once a specific urban dialect which died out gradually after the annihilation of the city in 1944. Anyway, standard Polish is the language of education and spread by radio and television, so everybody in Poland can speak it. Most people in Poland have no dialect or recognizable local accent.
    The situation is quite opposite in Norway, where I live. Here the Oslo dialect was once a standard, but the very notion of a standard spoken language was abandoned somewhere between 1960 and 1975. Now it is "illegal*" to claim that there exists a standard spoken language. Everybody is encouraged to speak one's dialect from the area one was born. This causes a lot of misunderstanding, and the most used phrase is Norwegian is "what did you say?"
    * illegal in the sense "ostracised by the public opinion".
     

    danielstan

    Senior Member
    Romanian - Romania
    My mother tongue is Polish, and in Poland it is impossible to identify any area where people speak more standard than in other places.
    Is this connected to the fact that Poland was "translated" West on the map of Europe after WWII?
    As far as I know Polish people born in today's Western Belarus and Western Ukraine arrived to leave in the former German territories attached to the Western Poland.
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I agree with what most people are saying about their country: in Italy, too, Standard Italian nowadays is the language spoken on television, with no regional accent whatsoever. Nowadays, Tuscan accent is just one of the many accents. If you speak Italian and no one can tell where you are from, that's Standard Italian. Unless you're trained, most people do have an accent. That's fine, that's cute, that's normal, but that ain't Standard Italian.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Last edited:

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    This is what Canepari writes in that article: "standard Italian, largely an artificial way of speaking only used by actors, newsreaders and dubbers".
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    "standard Italian, largely an artificial way of speaking only used by actors, newsreaders and dubbers".
    I totally agree. It is more or less like Standand German. However, since Standard Italian is based upon the florentine dialect (whose phonetic transcription can still be found in every Italian dictionary), some varieties of Italian are far closer to the Standard than others, that's for sure. Particularly, if we take into account closed and open vowels and syntactic doubling. All these features are regularly taught in elocution lessons.
     
    Last edited:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Is this connected to the fact that Poland was "translated" West on the map of Europe after WWII?
    As far as I know Polish people born in today's Western Belarus and Western Ukraine arrived to leave in the former German territories attached to the Western Poland.
    Yes, it is partly so, but the spoken language became standardized in all regions of Poland, also those that have continued with the same population in centuries. I still remember from my youth people speaking with eastern accents, but now they are 90 years old or dead. Three new generations have been born and came to adult age since 1945. But already before 1939 people that had at least secondary education spoke mostly the standard language.
     
    Last edited:

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Officially they are two, bokmål og nynorsk.
    Aren't those written standards rather than standard pronunciations? From the very first paragraph of "Bokmål" on Wikipedia:

    Bokmål (UK: /ˈbuːkmɔːl/, US: /ˈbʊk-, ˈboʊk-/;[2][3][4][5] literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language, alongside Nynorsk. Bokmål is the preferred written standard of Norwegian for 85% to 90%[6] of the population in Norway. Unlike, for instance, the Italian language, there is no nationwide standard or agreement on the pronunciation of Bokmål.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Isn't there even a radio-/TV or theatre ''official'' pronunciation in Norway?
    No, there is no spoken language standard of any kind. The news people on radio and TV get their news text written in one of the two written language standards, so (at least in theory) the lexical and syntactic standard is complied with, but the pronunciation is fully on discretion of the news reader alone.
    The very notion of reintroducing a spoken standard is usually met with reactions of the "are you crazy?" type.
    There are even certain people who equate spoken standard with fascism.
     
    I've always wondered about the practical mechanisms of these psychological shifts in the sixties–seventies and nowadays, when the very same people become ardent proponents of the ideas and behavior they rejected a decade or two ago. In the case of colloquial Norwegian, I imagine that an Oslo dweller laughed in 1960 at the provincial accent, and fifteen years later he, the same person, could not understand how can anybody deny other persons’ right to speak as they want. How exactly did this adjustment occur?
     
    Last edited:
    ^^In the case of Greece, which was officially diglossic until 1976, I'd say that the decision to make the Demotic Lower register the official state language, was a political one. The Greek diglossic question acquired from early on a left-right orientation, leading to a language war spanning more than a century, with the Left fighting for the Lower register and the Right defending the Higher register of artificially constructed Katharevousa.
    In the sixties, while most of Western Europe enjoyed a liberalization, Greece experienced a resurgence of right-wing conservatism, which culminated in the 7-year military dictatorship of 1967-74. The military regime banned Demotic, claiming it was slang, the language of hippies and communists alike, while Katharevousa was the proper language the Greeks with such a glorious past should use.
    In 1976 the democratization process ended the diglossic question by formally adopting the Demotic as the official language of the Greek Republic. But the decades of conflict between the two registers, had irredeemably changed Demotic, which by then had acquired Katharevousa traits and had trimmed away all the folksy, rustic and dialectal words, forms and syntax.
    To give you an example of the absurdity of Greek diglossia:
    My mother (born in 1946) in her gymnasium years (middle school) took Ancient Greek. In the ancient language, fish is «ἰχθύς» ĭkʰtʰū́s (masc.).
    On the other hand, she spoke Demotic at home, so she naturally called «ιχθύς», «ψάρι» [ˈp͡sa.ɾi] (neut.)*.
    At school though, she could use neither ἰχθύς (too old), nor ψάρι (too slangy), so she was forced to use the Katharevousa's «ὀψάριον» [ɔˈp͡sa.ɾi.ɔn] (neut.) instead :rolleyes:

    *MoGr «ψάρι» [ˈp͡sa.ɾi] (neut.) --> fish, aphetic form of Byz.Gr. neut. diminutive «ὀψάριον» opsárion --> fish < Classical neut. noun «ὄψον» ópsŏn --> side dish; the name «ὄψον» became gradually synonymous with the fish-dish and eventually with fish in general (PIE *h₁op-s- side-food cf Lat. opsōnium, anything eaten with bread to give it relish, especially fish).
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I've always wondered about the practical mechanisms of these psychological shifts in the sixties–seventies and nowadays, when the very same people become ardent proponents of the ideas and behavior they rejected a decade or two ago. In the case of colloquial Norwegian, I imagine that an Oslo dweller laughed in 1960 at the provincial accent, and fifteen years later he, the same person, could not understand how can anybody deny other persons’ right to speak as they want. How exactly did this adjustment occur?
    It is the strongest of social equalizers - conformism. I think that the one who laughed at another dialect in the 60-s (if he still lives) still thinks that dialects are ugly, but he learned to hold his mouth shut, and nick affirmatively when others praise dialectism as the best thing democracy has achieved.
    I personally think that dialects are a fine thing, but people should not push them on other people that may have problems with understanding. A standard language (dialect) is a good thing, because it makes communication between people from different parts of the country easier. I recall an incident when a Norwegian patient in a hospital asked a foreign doctor to translate the speech of a Norwegian nurse, who spoke a difficult dialect.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Croatia has a curious, although not unparalleled situation (it's kinda like Germany and Italy in that respect), in which the standard language is very different from the dialect of the capital. Or at least it was back when it was introduced: the modern Zagreb dialect is basically standard Croatian with a heavy old Zagreb dialect substrate. Still, Zagreb definitely isn't the city where purest standard Croatian is spoken, the substrate is too strong, especially in pronunciation, and most people will say that the inhabitants of Zagreb speak with an accent. However, Zagreb accent is not at all ridiculed, at least not everywhere, see below.

    I can't actually tell which city/town/village's dialect would be the closest to standard Croatian. I'm not acquainted with dialects it is based on enough to judge. In practice, everyone lets in a bit of their dialect when speaking standard Croatian. While correct orthography is very much insisted upon, correct orthoepy is not at all... or it is insisted upon only by specialists, with lay people paying no heed. Depending on personal preferences and the particular situation, everyone will freely choose how closely to follow standard Croatian pronunciation. Non-standard accents are omnipresent on TV. Among these, the Zagreb accent basically has the status of an unofficial standard in northwestern Croatia, some even prefer it to the official standard accent. In other regions the situation is different, they have their own regional models and Zagreb accent can be met with resistance.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Catalonia this would be Barcelona or the Barcelona region. Sociolects exist and much of the younger generation in the area has some Castilianized phonology, but the "most neuter" accent is still the traditional one from Barcelona and surroundings by sheer population weight.

    I'm not that sure about this. I also think that the "central Central" (that is to say, educated Central Catalan around Barcelona) was the one taken as a base for the standard, with acceptance of features from other varieties, specially when those in "central Central" were too local. The thing is, Barcelona locals having changed so much since 1913, I doubt there still is a "traditional" Barcelona accent, rather several modern accents derived from intermingling. To the point that you see on TV a proportinally high number of presenters, actors, etc, who are from other areas.
     
    Top