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In sociolinguistics, prestige is the level of respect accorded to a language or dialect as compared to that of other languages or dialects in a speech community. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics is closely related to that of prestige or class within a society. Generally, there is positive prestige associated with the language or dialect of the upper classes, and negative prestige with the language or dialect of the lower classes. The concept of prestige is also closely tied to the idea of the standard language, in that the most prestigious dialect is likely to be considered the standard language, though there are some notable exceptions to this rule, such as Arabic. Prestige is particularly visible in situations where two or more languages come in contact, and in diverse, socially stratified urban environments, in which there are likely to be speakers of different languages or dialects interacting frequently. Despite common perceptions that certain dialects or languages are relatively good or bad, correct or incorrect, "judged on purely linguistic grounds, all languages—and all dialects—have equal merit".


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