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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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Germanising Austria: The Invisibilisation of East Upper German in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Austria (Anna D. Havinga)

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Anna D. Havinga Germanising Austria: The Invisibilisation of East Upper German in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Austria1 abstract This paper explores how a particular Bavarian-Austrian variant (the e-apocope in feminine nouns) became increasingly invisible in Austrian reading primers printed between 1750 and 1833. It shows the timing of the replacement of the Austrian variant (East Upper German, EUG) with the Saxon German (East Central German, ECG, which was the prestigious variety2) equivalent, i.e. the presence of word-final -e. Furthermore, I discuss the explicit stigmatisation of spoken regional varieties in these primers and draw comparisons to Austria’s current ‘dialects’. The overall aim of this paper is to give an account of who stigmatised particular EUG variants, why and when and how this stigmatisation influenced Austria’s present linguistic landscape. 1 I owe my gratitude to Nils Langer (Bristol), Stephan Elspaß (Salzburg), Paul Rössler (Regensburg), Rudolf Muhr (Graz) and Ingeborg Geyer (Austrian Academy of Sciences) for their valuable comments and suggestions. Furthermore, I wish to thank Ingrid Höfler for granting me access to the schoolbook collection of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs. 2 Wiesinger (2008: 267) illustrates this feeling of superiority of Saxon German over Austrian German by quoting Christian Gottlob Klemm, an eighteenth-century lan- guage teacher, editor, writer and secretary who studied in Leipzig and Jena, asking ‘[a]ber warum sollten wir in Österreich nicht eben so gut deutsch schreiben können, als die Sachsen?’ (‘why shouldn’t we, in Austria, be able to write as well...

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