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Invisible Languages in the Nineteenth Century

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Edited By 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 Danish Composite State and the Lost Memory of a Multilingual Culture (Steen Bo Frandsen)

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Steen Bo Frandsen The Danish Composite State and the Lost Memory of a Multilingual Culture abstract In the Danish nation state the multiethnic and multilingual aspects of the past were first rejected and later forgotten. The examples in this chapter show a far more complex lin- guistic reality of the nineteenth century than that presented in later national historical narratives. For a long time languages were primarily used as tools for communication, but during the national conflict in the nineteenth century the nexus between language and identity became dominant. In the Danish composite state there were several ways to navigate between languages, regional varieties and mixed languages but the national ideology suppressed the visibility of multilingual realities and instead constructed a clear antagonism between ‘Danish’ and ‘German’ in both culture and language. Introduction For almost four centuries the Oldenburg kings of Denmark ruled a com- posite state containing different peoples, cultures and languages. In this period the state connected the kingdoms of Denmark-Norway with the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. In 1814 the union between Denmark and Norway was dissolved, and for the following fifty years, until the final break-up of the state in 1864, relations between the kingdom of Denmark and the two duchies moved into focus. The relationship between Danish and German inside the composite state turned into an antagonism that finally made the state collapse. In the discourse of nation-state history and culture dating back to the nineteenth century, the existence of a composite state as well...

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