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Metalinguistic Perspectives on Germanic Languages

European Case Studies from Past to Present


Gijsbert Rutten and Kristine Horner

In what ways has language been central to constructing, challenging and reconfiguring social and political boundaries? This volume traverses space and time to explore the construction of such boundaries. Focusing on the ways that language functions as an inclusive and divisive marker of identity, the volume includes case studies on Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium  and Luxembourg. It also explores the northern and southern borderlands of present-day Germany as well as the city of Cologne and the surrounding Ruhr area. The chapters critically engage with focused accounts of past and present language situations, practices and policies. Taken as a whole, the volume stresses the importance of studying metalinguistic perspectives as a means of enabling detailed analyses and challenging generalizations.
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2 The ‘Golden Age Myth’: The Construction of Dutch as a National Language


1 The ‘Golden Age Myth’ and the standard language ideology

Many countries, nations, peoples and other imagined groups of individuals have their ‘Golden Age’. The Wikipedia entry ‘Golden Age (metaphor)’ mentions dozens of examples, from the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain between 900 and 1100 over the Polish Golden Age in the sixteenth century and the early seventeenth century to the Golden Age of arcade video games from the late 1970s to the 1980s.1 It also mentions the Dutch Golden Age of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century. Usually, this period is labelled golden primarily for the economic success, particularly of the province of Holland and its main city Amsterdam: the miraculous transformation of a region torn by war and social upheaval to an economic superpower and the European centre of trade (Israel 1996: 337; Frijhoff and Spies 1999: 18). The period is also well-known for the Dutch school in painting (a.o. Vermeer, Hals, Rembrandt) and for its literary production (a.o. Vondel, Hooft and Bredero).

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