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Grammar between Norm and Variation

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Edited By 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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Beate Henn-Memmesheimer: Ephemera and Tradition-Founding Grammatical Constructions: Staging and Acceptance 59

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Beate Henn-Memmesheimer (Mannheim) Ephemera and Tradition-Founding Grammatical Constructions Staging and Acceptance 1. Introduction New grammatical constructions are developed in various domains of cultural space (e.g., in sciences, in administrations, in new media) and established with specific meanings. Some of them are carried over with altered meanings into different cultural domains, while others disappear as ephemeral trends. Exam- ples of patterns in communication studies and political science established in the last few years include: kommunizieren as a transitive and passive verb, as in et- was wird gut/missverständlich kommuniziert; abheben with the preposition auf; in the field of administration, the preposition in followed by a year; in comics and cartoons, verbs without endings such as flatter, seufz; in the sciences – in scientific and scholarly texts – the formation nichtsdestotrotz, originally a face- tious form1, which has appeared in the meantime in my colleagues’ publications and in students’ papers as a hallmark of weighty scientific argumentation2. In the following study, the scope of quantitative and qualitative methods of describing new linguistic conventions will be exemplified. On a systemic level, the innova- tions can be related to existing standardized patterns and explained. On the basis of larger corpora, temporal developments such as establishments and trends can be ascertained quantitatively and represented by growth-curves (gradients). These developments can be qualitatively analyzed through interpretative meth- ods. It will be shown that new grammatical patterns become linguistic currency for the sake of specific meanings, and that these meanings change with their dis- semination into new domains. On...

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