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Pluricentric Languages and Non-Dominant Varieties Worldwide

Part I: Pluricentric Languages across Continents. Features and Usage

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Edited By Rudolf Muhr

This is the first of two thematically arranged volumes with papers that were presented at the "World Conference of Pluricentric Languages and their non-dominant Varieties" (WCPCL). It comprises papers about 20 PCLs and 14 NDVs around the world. The second volume encompasses a further 17 papers about the pluricentricity of Portuguese and Spanish. The conference was held at the University of Graz (Austria) on July 8th-11th 2015. The papers fall into five categories: (1) Theoretical aspects of pluricentricity and the description of variation; (2) Different types of pluricentricity in differing environments; (3) African pluricentric languages and non-dominant varieties; (4) The pluricentricity of Arabic and Asian languages; (5) The pluricentricity of European languages inside Europe (Austrian German, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Hungarian, Belgium Dutch, French, Greek, Swedish, Russian).

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Non-Dominant Varieties and Invisible Languages: the case of 18th- and early 19th-centuryAustrian German

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Abstract

This paper investigates factors that have led to the non-dominant status of Austrian German today. The socio-political, socio-economic, and linguistic developments in the second half of the 18th century appear to have had a significant effect on the perception that Austrian German is ‘less correct’ than German German. During that time, grammarians propagated the East Central German variety (ECG, used in Upper Saxony) and at the same time they implicitly or explicitly stigmatised the Upper German variety (UG, used in the south of the German speaking area, including most parts of todays Austria1). The language norms prescribed by grammarians were further disseminated through Empress Maria Theresa’s school reform, particularly the Allgemeine Schulordnung (1774), which prescribed compulsory elementary schooling and the use of specific textbooks. These developments not only resulted in making Austrian German variants invisible but also turned Austrian German into a non-dominant language.

1.   Introduction: The study of non-dominant varieties and invisible languages

Traditional language histories largely ignore non-dominant varieties, spoken varieties, and varieties of ‘less educated people’, which results in an incomplete picture of language use (cf. Elspaß 2005). Readers of these language histories get the impression that there was only one homogeneous language once the standardisation of a language had been completed. In the case of German, the standardisation of the ‘literary’ or ‘written language’ was described as completed by the end of the ← 253 | 254 → 18th century in traditional language histories – a claim that has been challenged...

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