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Invisible Languages in the Nineteenth Century

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Anna Havinga and Nils Langer

The great linguistic diversity of spoken languages contrasts greatly with the much smaller number of languages used in written discourse. Many linguistic varieties – in particular, regional and minority languages – are not deemed suitable for writing because they do not possess the necessary lexical wealth or grammatical complexity. Such prejudices are commonplace amongst non-linguists and they have their origin in the sociolinguistic history of their speaker communities.
This book focuses on the nineteenth century as the time when language became an important part of the cultural identity of speakers, communities and nations. It comprises fourteen chapters on a variety of languages and countries and seeks to explore why and how certain linguistic varieties were excluded from written discourse – in other words, why they remain invisible to contemporary readers and modern historians. The case studies in this book illustrate the factors involved in the invisibilisation of languages in the nineteenth century; the metalinguistic debates about the suppression or promotion of regional, minority and non-standard languages; and the ways in which a careful study of informal writing can visibilise the linguistic diversity of spoken languages.

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The Decline of the South Jutish in Angeln: A Historical Case of Transformation into the Modern Age around 1800 (Harald Wolbersen)

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Harald Wolbersen The Decline of the South Jutish in Angeln: A Historical Case of Transformation into the Modern Age around 1800 abstract This chapter provides an overview of the Danish vernacular Sønderjysk (South Jutish) in Angeln (Anglia) in the south-eastern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig and aims to explain how this language not only became invisible in written discourse but how it actu- ally disappeared during the nineteenth century. The approach is divided into two parts: firstly by describing the language as found in the multilingual area of the former Duchy of Schleswig, secondly by contextualising the attested language shift within its historical perspective. Diaries and reports from different periods in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century will be used to examine both the language use of Sønderjysk and any metalinguistic comments about the language. In the historical context, the process of language loss will be considered as a defining feature of the turning point from the Early Modern to the Modern period, which took place from c. 1750 to 1850 in Denmark. The model of societal transformation in the period of rising nationalism serves as theoretical background. The example of a speech community will be used to illustrate the passing from one national stage to another. Introduction: Key questions on the loss of Sønderjysk in Angeln The sociolinguistics of the German–Danish borderlands are heavily influ- enced by the well-documented level of language contact (cf. also the con- tributions by Fredsted, Frandsen, and...

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