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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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5 Beliefs and Ideas about Second-Language Acquisition in Newspaper Articles of the German-Speaking Community of Belgium (1919–1963)


1 Introduction

Located around the cities of Eupen and Sankt Vith in the eastern part of Belgium, the German-speaking Community (henceforth: GC) counts as one of the best-protected language communities in Europe. It has about 75,000 inhabitants, a number which corresponds to less than 1% of the Belgian population. The GC’s territory comprises nine municipalities. It is divided into a northern part, also known as the Eupener Land, and a southern part, known as the Belgische Eifel. A natural border called the High Fens separates the two parts. There exists a substantial amount of academic literature on the GC (cf. Darquennes 2013a for an overview). However, we have yet to see the publication of a systematic analytical account of the evolution of language-in-education policy (henceforth: LEP) over the last ninety years, especially one that focuses on the interplay between language, education and power from a historical sociolinguistic point of view (cf. Boemer and Darquennes 2012). This chapter tackles this desideratum. Its focus will be on discovering competing beliefs and ideas (or: ‘ideologies’) about LEP in the GC by means of the analysis of topoi (argumentation structures) in a corpus of newspaper articles that cover the period between 1919 and 1963. The results of the analysis are presented in Section 4 and discussed in Section 5. To start with, Section 2 provides some basic information on the historical and political context of the research area, and Section 3 discusses the main theoretical and methodological issues. ← 79...

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