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Grammar between Norm and Variation

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Alexandra N. Lenz and Albrecht Plewnia

The articles collected in this volume offer the most various access to the discussed questions on norm and variation. In their entirety, they reflect the current discussion of the topic. Focusing on the object languages German and English ensures a high level of topical consistency. On the other hand, the four large topic areas (emergence and change of norms and grammatical constructions; relationship of codes of norms and ‘real’ language usage; competition of standard and non-standard language norms; and subsistent norms of minority languages and «institutionalised second-language varieties») cover a large range of relevant issues, thereby certainly giving an impetus to new and further investigations.

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Alexandra N. Lenz & Albrecht Plewnia: On Grammar between Norm and Variation 7

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Alexandra N. Lenz (Wien) & Albrecht Plewnia (Mannheim) On Grammar between Norm and Variation 1. Introduction Already thirteen years ago, the publishing company Peter Lang Verlag pub- lished a (German) volume with the title “Norm und Variation” (‘Norm and Variation’) (Mattheier (ed.) 1997). Klaus Mattheier, editor at that time, deliber- ately stuck to the order of the concepts ‘norm’ and ‘variation’ although, as he pointed out, that order is misleading: “Schon die Reihenfolge […] suggeriert eine bestimmte strukturelle bzw. genetische Reihenfolge der Phänomene, die mit den Verhältnissen in der Sprachwirklichkeit nicht völlig übereinstimmt. Man wird zu der Vorstellung geführt, daß in einer Einzelsprache bzw. in der Sprache allgemein zuerst eine Sprachnorm gegeben ist und die Variation dieser nachgeordnet ist. Der Begriff ‘Variation’ suggeriert darüber hinaus, daß es eine Norm, einen Gebrauch, einen Usus in der Sprache geben muß, zu dem in der Sprachwirklichkeit beobachtbare sprachliche bzw. sprachsozioloigsche Phänomene ‘eine Variation’ bilden.” (Mattheier 1997: 7) ‘The order alone […] sug- gests a certain order of the concepts in structure or their generation, which does not correctly correspond with the reality of language. It suggests that, in any given lan- guage or even in language in general, a given linguistic norm exists to which a varia- tion is then subordinated. The concept of ‘variation’ further suggests that there must be a norm, a convention, a custom in this language to which some phenomena, lin- guistic or linguistic-sociological, are ‘a variation’.’ We should, however, in fact turn the order around:...

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