The Making of Bad Language

Lay Linguistic Stigmatisations in German: Past und Present

by Winifred V. Davies (Author) Nils Langer (Author)
©2006 Monographs 348 Pages


This book is a contribution to the history of non-standard or bad German. The origin and development of standard German was a complex process and many factors were involved in the selection, non-selection and de-selection of variants, as well as the initial promotion of certain varieties of German to supraregional status. The interest here is in non-selection and de-selection of variants and so the study focuses especially on questions such as: Why were certain constructions ignored in the formation of standard German grammar and why were others explicitly judged ill-suited for inclusion in the prestige variety? Who was responsible for these stigmatisations and what reasons were given? And finally, how was the knowledge that one shouldn’t use particular constructions transmitted to the language users? At the heart of this study are case studies of 11 morphosyntactic features of bad German as found in a selection of texts produced by norm makers, from 1600 to 2005, all of them salient Zweifelsfälle of modern German.


ISBN (Softcover)
Sprachkritik Sprachnorm Geschichte Sociolinguistic Prescriptivism Standardisation Deutsch Morphosyntax
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2006. 348 pp., num. tables

Biographical notes

Winifred V. Davies (Author) Nils Langer (Author)

The Authors: Winifred V. Davies was born in 1957 in Wales and studied German and Spanish in Manchester (GB), graduating in 1979. She went on to lecture in Germany, England and Wales. In 1994 she gained her Ph.D. for a study of linguistic variation and attitudes in Mannheim, and since 2000 she has been Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Wales Aberystwyth. Nils Langer was born in 1969 in Neumünster (Germany) and studied German and English Linguistics in Newcastle upon Tyne (GB), graduating in 1994 and gaining his Ph.D. in 2000 for a study of the stigmatisation of auxiliary tun in ENHG. He has worked as a lecturer in Newcastle and at University College Dublin, and has been a lecturer in German Linguistics at the University of Bristol since 2000.


Title: The Making of Bad Language