Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 July 2021
Standardization is the selection of one variant among others. It may concern any aspect of language use – pronunciation, orthography, morphology, syntax, the lexicon – and can occur within any social group, from the family to international organizations. Language policy is a conscious choice regarding a language or a linguistic feature. Such a choice, made by some social authority, is then implemented through language policy. State intervention may depend on calls for efficiency or calls for equality. Each policy and each plan for implementation is situated within a specific historical context. We trace two national histories often represented as being at opposite ends of the spectrum: the centralized power of the state in France and the decentralized power distributed to states and smaller governmental units in the USA. There are as many histories as there are languages and language varieties.