Landmarks in the History of the German Language

by Geraldine Horan (Volume editor) Nils Langer (Volume editor) Sheila Watts (Volume editor)
©2009 Conference proceedings VIII, 312 Pages


The contributions to this volume explore eleven key developments in the external history of the German language, that is, the combination of social, political and cultural circumstances which influenced the language and its speakers. Some of these ‘landmarks’ are individuals or groups of people who have exerted influence over the language: Charlemagne, Luther, the early modern grammarians and lexicographers. Others are studies of particular periods, places or groups which have not found their place in more narrative accounts: standardisation in the nineteenth century, the role of Low German, the state of German at the Stunde Null in 1945. An overarching theme is the role of deliberate intervention in the development of German, whether it took the form of education, prescriptivism, purism or political manipulation. The essays, a number of which were originally delivered as lectures in the University of Cambridge and all of which are by specialists in the field, combine to provide a history of the German language in its social context.


VIII, 312
ISBN (Softcover)
Culture Social landmarks Politics Low German
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2009. VIII, 312 pp., 5 tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Geraldine Horan (Volume editor) Nils Langer (Volume editor) Sheila Watts (Volume editor)

The Editors: Geraldine Horan completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since 2000 she has been a Lecturer in German Language and Linguistics at University College London. Her research interests lie in feminist linguistics, discourse analysis and political discourse, with a particular focus on the relationship between gender, discourse, nationalism and National Socialism. Nils Langer obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle and has since worked at the University of Bristol where he is a Reader in German Linguistics. His work focuses on areas of historical sociolinguistics, in particular with regard to the standardisation of German and the stigmatisation of non-standard variants. Sheila Watts spent her early career at Trinity College Dublin, where she obtained her doctorate. Since 1998 she has been a University Lecturer in German at the University of Cambridge (Newnham College). She has worked on grammaticalisation in the history of German, particularly in Old Saxon, and on early modern linguistic historiography.


Title: Landmarks in the History of the German Language