Časopis Slovo a slovesnost
en cz

Spisovnost a její zdroje

Václav Cvrček



Literariness: the concept and its criteria

Although “literary language”, i.e. standard language or spisovná čestina, was the central notion of the Prague Linguistic Circle’s Theory of the Cultivation of Language, it has never been defined. This article deals with the problem of definition of “literariness”, a concept which forms the base for the codification criterion of “correspondence with the literary norm”. Several attempts to define it or to provide criteria for “literariness” were made, but, as I explain, none of them were successful in reproducing the codified set of language means. These attempts can be divided into two groups: nominalistic and realistic. The former suggests that literariness (i.e. being a part of literary/standard language) is “a mere label”, a characteristic that is acquired by being codified, the latter supposes that language means are standard or nonstandard (or something in between) depending on their usage. The nominalistic approach appears to be inadequate, as it provides no opportunity for language development. Realistic criteria, however, are either methodologically dubious or highly controversial among Czech linguists.

Key words: literariness, literary language, codification, prescriptivism, language standard, intervention
Klíčová slova: spisovnost, spisovný jazyk, kodifikace, preskriptivismus, jazykový standard, intervence

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Slovo a slovesnost, volume 67 (2006), number 1, pp. 46-60

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