Linguistic normativity and the sociolinguistic aspect of dictionaries, grammars and orthographic dictionaries


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Lexicology, Lexicography, Gramaticography

Course code: 56

Year of study: Brez letnika 

Course principal:
Assist. Prof. Nataša Gliha Komac, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. Helena Dobrovoljc, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective 

Languages: Slovene 

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes 


Course Syllabus

Content (Syllabus outline)

Part 1:

Macro and Micro Sociolinguistics

  • The use of language in a given community and its various constituent parts (different language and/or language varieties) – different perspectives of social stratification in the individual’s use of language (idiolect) (ethnicity, age group, social stratum, occupation, text genre: spoken, written, online text, geography, demographics, legal status etc.);
  • Language ability, language use and various standpoints;
  • Analysis of relevant examples.


Language policy and language planning

  • The planning of the corpus of the Slovene language (linguopolitical and cultural activities involved in the formation of language description), its status and the level of language literacy;
  • Current questions of Slovene language policy (e.g. fundamental acts and documents responsible for the proper use of the Slovene language, such as the Public Use of the Slovene Language Act, the resolution on the national programme responsible for the regulation of language policy in a particular period, plans of action etc. and their realisation).


Social reality in (Slovene) grammars, dictionaries and orthographic dictionaries

  • The linguistic perspective of social reality – view-points and theoretical models (e.g. the theory of language stratification);
  • Description and labelling of the social and linguistic reality in fundamental Slovene prescriptive guides: semantic explanation, qualifiers/labels and sense discrimination, examples – alternative possibilities;
  • Analysis of relevant examples.


Part 2:

The standard language and linguistic culture

  • Language as a fundamentally non-standardised phenomenon (the dichotomy between the social and individual use of language; search for individual linguistic expression; psycholinguistic factors in the formation of an idiom)
  • The conceptual frame-work of the study of the standard language;
  • The process of standardisation.


Prescriptive grammar and linguistic change

  • Slovene language evolution (the historical development of orthography, received pronunciation and morphology as reflected in the standardisation guides);
  • Contemporary understanding of grammaticality (grammatical and appropriate use of language; standardisation principles; presentation of different views).


Prescriptive guidelines in handbooks/manuals, grammars and dictionaries

  • Prescriptive guidelines as the representation of the norm and codification rules (the definition of language use, norm and codification of the standard language);
  • The historical development of normativity in Slovene standardisation manuals (with special emphasis on the period characterised by collective efforts towards the establishment of the standard language);
  • Analysis of relevant examples.


Prescriptive grammar and lexicography

  • The Anglo-Saxon and Eastern European understanding of the prescriptive approach in dictionaries;
  • Implicit and explicit normativity in Slovene standardisation guides (the prevailing methodology in lexicography in the 2nd half of the 20th century)
  • Contemporary views on the standardisation process and its influence on lexicography (current methods and principles in presenting the information on standardisation);
  • Analysis of relevant examples (with particular emphasis on the relationship between the argumentation of standardisation principles (grammar, orthography) and their application in dictionary writing).


Seminar classes

The seminars systematically complement the lectures and typically focus on specific topics in sociolinguistics and the standardisation process. Special emphasis is put on the analysis of a selected problem (historical or current) in lexicographical research.


The student is challenged to reaffirm the theoretical background presented in the lectures by providing a guided interpretation of (contemporary) Slovene linguistic reality (be it on the level of the individual or the society) and an analysis of language material as reflected by the fundamental language standardisation works, i.e. grammars, dictionaries and orthographic dictionaries.


Cross-curricular integration

Prerequisite for successful participation in lectures is the basic knowledge about the individual thematic areas of linguistic research and relevant technical terminology. The course is tightly connected to »Lexicology, lexicography and grammaticography« and partly to other courses offered by the graduate programme Comparative studies of ideas and cultures.



The list contains a set of basic reference works. According to the individual interest of the student additional readings will be supplied in lectures and/or seminars.

  • Béjoint, Henri, 1994: Tradition and Inovation in Modern English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Bermal, Neil, 2006: Linguistic Authority, Language Ideology, and Metaphor. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Dobrovoljc, Helena, 2014: Normativna informacija v slovarju. Jezikoslovni zapiski 20.
  • Dobrovoljc, Helena, Bizjak Končar, Aleksandra, 2013: Slovenski pravopisi in vprašanje normativnih pristojnosti. Slovenski jezik – Slovene linguistic studies. 9. 111–126.
  • Dobrovoljc, Helena, Jakop, Nataša, 2011: Sodobni pravopisni priročnik med normo in predpisom. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Dolník, Juraj, 2010: Teória spisovného jazyka (so zreteľom na spisovnú slovenčinu). Bratislava, VEDA.
  • Fasold, Ralph, 1996: The Sociolinguistics of Language. Oxford, Cambridge: Blackwell.
  • Garvin, Paul L., 1993: A conceptual framework for the study of language standardization. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 37–54.
  • Gliha Komac, Nataša, 2009: Slovenščina med jeziki Kanalske doline. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za družbene vede; Ukve: SKS Planika; Trst: SLORI.
  • Landau, Sidney, 2001: The Art and Craft of Lexicography. Cambridge: University Press.
  • Zborniki »Language Variation – European Perspectives«. (ICLaVE 4).
  • Meyerhoff, Miriam 2019: Introducing sociolinguistics. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Meyerhoff, Miriam, Schleef, Erik and Laurel MacKenzie, 2015: Doing sociolinguistics. A practical guide to data collection and analysis. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Milroy, James, 2001: Language ideologies and the consequences of standardization. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/4. 530–555.
  • Pravopisna razpotja. Razprave o pravopisnih vprašanjih. 2015. Ur. H. Dobrovoljc, T. Lengar Verovnik. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Pravopisna stikanja. Razprave o pravopisnih vprašanjih. 2012. Ur. N. Jakop, H. Dobrovoljc. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
  • Püschel, Ulrich, 2006: Lexikographie und Soziolinguistik – Lexicography and Sociolinguistics. V: Sociolinguistics – Soziolinguistik, An international Handbook of the Science of Language and Society – Ein internationales Handbuch zur Wissenschaft von Sprache und Gesellschaft, ur. Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar, Klaus J. Mattheier, Peter Trudgill. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. 2461–2473.
  • Tematska številka: Slavia Centralis, 2018. 11/2.
  • Tematska številka: Jezik in slovstvo, 2/2021.
  • Spolsky, Bernard, 2010: Sociolinguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Language Policy and Planning, 2018. Oxford University Press.
  • Zbornik: 1. slovenski pravorečni posvet, 2021. Ljubljana: SAZU.


Objectives and competences

Any given language, being the basic means of interaction with or perception of external reality, is normally a product of social agreement and to a much lesser degree belongs in the domain of the particular linguistic community in which individual speakers function. Grammars, dictionaries and orthographic dictionaries offer a systematic description/documentation of a given language system and provide for the user a set of available linguistic means and rules which enable fully functional language use (i.e. reception and production).


Language standardisation enables the community of users to exercise social power and autonomy, while the standard language assumes the role of each individual’s means of identification. Language society is faced with the challenge to practice intellectual discipline demanded by ongoing maintenance of the norm and flexible stability of the standard language, while linguistics take on the responsibility to provide a fundamental set of normativity guides in order to help maintain the supra-dialectal idiom. Particularly in smaller linguistic communities these manuals normally assume the role of consultative reference works with noticeably greater social impact.


The course (1) offers an overview of the set of fundamental standardisation works for the Slovene language, especially from the view-point of the standard language theory and the sociolinguistic circumstances responsible for their production, i.e. be it as part of the defence strategy of a given language in multilingual and/or multinational environment or as conveyor of prestigious language patterns; (2) describes the representation of Slovene social and linguistic reality in current standardisation manuals; (4) on the basis of applied lexicographic solutions provides ample opportunity to review the suitability and adequacy of such representation and establishes an apparatus for studying linguistic-evolutionary shifts.


At the end of the course the student is capable to: (a) develop sensitivity to observation and recognition of significant sociolinguistic elements of social reality, (b) describe social reality by means of lexicography, (c) observe language as it develops under the influence of social and internal linguistic-systemic circumstances; (d) recognise implicit and explicit normativity in language standardisation guides; (e) deviation recognition.


Intended learning outcomes

  • Developing awareness of the interrelationships between the individual, his/her language and the society;
  • Re-thinking the image of social and linguistic reality as reflected by the linguistic description in fundamental contemporary Slovene prescriptive guides;
  • Independent interpretation and description of social and linguistic reality reflected in (Slovene) dictionaries, grammars and orthographic dictionaries – the search for alternative solutions;
  • Understanding the complexity of the standardisation process (i.e. as a sociolinguistic phenomenon, as a result of the manifestation of language policy in a given linguistic community, as a developmental process);
  • Historical and theoretical fundamentals of the standard language;
  • Knowledge applicable to the use and representation of research results; gaining knowledge of lexicography; recognising difficulties in standardisation.



Long written assignments (80 %), Final examination (written/oral) (20 %).


Historical lexicology, historical lexicography and historical grammar

Assist. Prof. Andreja Legan Ravnikar, Ph.D.,

Asst. Prof. Alenka Jelovšek, Ph. D.,


Lexicology, lexicography, contemporary grammar

Assoc. Prof. Nataša Jakop, Ph.D.,

Prof. Andreja Žele, Ph. D. ,


Linguistic normativity and the sociolinguistic aspect of dictionaries, grammars and orthographic dictionaries

Assist. Prof. Nataša Gliha Komac, Ph.D.,

Assoc. Prof. Helena Dobrovoljc, Ph. D.,


Terminology and terminography

Assist. Prof. Mojca Žagar Karer, Ph. D. ,

Assist. Prof. Mateja Jemec Tomazin, Ph. D. ,