Charles A. Ferguson (1921 - 1998)
- Sociolinguistics, Applied Linguistics
- Arabic Linguistics
- TOEFL test created under his leadership
Ferguson made fundamental contributions to language universals, language use in society, and language change. Several of his articles have been basic classics for decades.
Diglossia is a linguistic term coined by Ferguson, as a result of his study on language and society. One of his theses was that some communities deploy two varieties of a language, thus they live in a "diglossic" speech community: a local, vernacular, spoken version associated with informal, quotidian communication; and a more prestigious, superposed version associated with education, government, religion and literature. Ferguson calls these ‘Low’ and ‘High’ varieties. Speakers and writers choose between L and H according to the situation. H and L thus signify the different cultural values of a speaker or the speech situation.
- Ferguson, C. A. (1959). Diglossia. Word 15.
- Ferguson, C. A. (1976). The Ethiopian Language Area. Language In Ethiopia, ed. by M. Lionel Bender, J. Donald Bowen, R.L. Cooper, Charles A. Ferguson. Oxford: Oxford University Press.