Linguistic Norm

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Norm, Linguistic


the historically determined aggregate of linguistic means in common use in a given language; also, the rules governing the choice and use of such means—rules that have become generally accepted by a specific linguistic community during a specific historical period. The linguistic norm is one of the essential characteristics of a language, ensuring its functioning and historical continuity.

Literary norms represent a special kind of linguistic norm. They become established during the evolution of a literary language in the course of national development. The specific features of the norms of a developed literary language are the relative stability and unity of linguistic means and their rich functional and stylistic differentiation. The orthographic and grammatical norms of a literary language are usually marked by considerable stability, while the lexicon permits great freedom of usage. On the whole, an established literary norm does not exclude the variation of individual linguistic means, but in the standardized national language, variants usually fulfill various stylistic functions.

The formation and subsequent evolution of literary norms are determined by both spontaneous and conscious normalization processes. An important role in the establishment, maintenance, and dissemination of literary norms is played by literature, school, the theater, and especially by radio, television, the press, and other mass media.

The literary norm is recorded in normative grammars and dictionaries, which are periodically revised in conformity with changes in the language itself and in society’s evaluation of its means.


Itskovich, V. A. Iazykovaia norma. Moscow, 1968.
Havránek, “Zum Problem der Norm in der heutigen Sprachwissenschaft und Sprachkultur.” In A Prague School Reader in Linguistics. Bloom-ington, Ind., 1964.


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