A European Perspective
Edited By Gabrielle Hogan-Brun
This collection of especially commissioned articles, written in English by internationally renowned experts, explores these and related questions. It draws together research on the status and role of German and on attitudes towards its use in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy (South Tyrol), France (Alsace), Denmark (Nordschleswig) and Hungary.
'Deutsch' as a Linguistic, Ethnic and National Label: Cultural and Political Consequences of a Multiple Ambiguity 33
Stephen Barbour 'Deutsch' as a Linguistic, Ethnic and National Label: Cultural and Political Consequences of a Multiple Ambiguity In central and eastern Europe national identity is often much more clearly linked than it is elsewhere to the use of a particular language. Nowhere is this clearer than in Germany, where, it can be argued, language is by far the most salient defining characteristic of the German nation. This is one of the most important reasons why the German language is often seen as 'belonging' to Germany, with varieties spoken outside of Germany as secondary or derivative in some sense. This view entails serious misunderstandings: German has just as long a history in Austria and Switzerland as it has in Germany; the standard language did not develop exclusively in Germany; the prestige variety of the standard language is not identical with everyday speech in Germany; the German language has a clear role in national identities outside of Germany, particularly in Austria. Not only is German not just the language of Germany, it has only recently begun to lose its role as a language of international communication in much of central and eastern Europe. This chapter not only challenges misconceptions, it also shows how a narrow view of German as only the language of Germany is undermining the position of German as an academic subject. This important language can still be a key to understanding the culture and history of a wide area of Europe, far beyond the borders of the contemporary...
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