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European Francophonie

The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language


Edited By Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent and Derek Offord

This volume examines the use of French in European language communities outside France from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The phenomenon of French language usage is explored in a wide variety of communities, namely Bohemian, Dutch, medieval English, German (Prussian), Italian, Piedmontese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Each chapter offers unique insight into the existence of francophonie in a given language community by providing illustrations of language usage and detailed descriptions of various aspects of it. The volume as a whole explores such sociolinguistic matters as bilingualism and multilingualism, the use of French as a lingua franca and prestige language, language choice and code-switching, variations in language usage depending on class or gender, language attitudes and language education. The sociohistorical and sociocultural matters considered include the association of a variety of language with the court, nobility or some other social group; the function of French as a vehicle for the transmission of foreign cultures; and the role of language in the formation of identity of various kinds (national, social and personal).
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7. The Domains of Francophonie and Language Ideology in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Prussia

← 174 | 175 → MANUELA BÖHM


In order to describe the role of French in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Prussia we shall inevitably have to speak of the power of attraction that French culture exerted on Prussia in the Age of Enlightenment. This power made itself felt in a large number of the practices and cultural phenomena of the time: literature, fashion, architecture, daily life, music, correspondence and, of course, language. Francophonie in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Prussia was thus part of a far-reaching social process of cultural positioning. Almost simultaneously with this turning towards France, a rediscovery of language was taking place in Germany during the second half of the eighteenth century. This rediscovery, as Peter Burke has said, did not embrace diversity and plurilingalism, unlike in the previous two centuries, but shifted attention towards linguistic unity. It was closely bound up with the invention of the nation and the formation of national identities.1

Prussia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a multi-denominational, multi-cultural and plurilingual country, on discontinuous territory, and found itself between militarism and the Aufklärung/Idealismus [German Enlightenment/Idealism]. The key words which describe it are expansion, modernity and Enlightenment/Idealism. As far as the sociopolitical and linguistic situation of this state is concerned, these words best express the contradictory tendencies. For by means of economic and political innovation, expansion and militarism Prussia was rising to the rank of ← 175 | 176 → one of the major empires of Europe.2 At the same time, its capital Berlin, in parallel with Leipzig, Halle and...

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