Linguistic varieties are not created equal. Some linguistic registers (varieties) are actively made into standard languages; others are demoted and/or erased. Some aspects of this process are well-known (corpus and status planning, for instance); other aspects have been neglected. This chapter takes up the semiotic and social processes by which cultural images of linguistic varieties, and of their users and uses, are constructed.
Standardization always relies on such images, and although the process of standardization might have universal features, such cultural images vary among world regions. Different justifications, legitimations and explanations of such presupposed images constitute a key part of standardizing ideologies. It is important to investigate how such images are institutionalized or resisted, moving beyond the usual venues of schooling and state policy to explore everyday linguistic life.