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Non-Dominant Varieties of Pluricentric Languages. Getting the Picture

In Memory of Michael Clyne- In Collaboration with Catrin Norrby, Leo Kretzenbacher, Carla Amorós


Edited By Rudolf Muhr

This volume comprises 28 papers presented at the 1 st International Conference on Non-Dominant Varieties of Pluricentric Languages in Graz (Austria) in July 2011. The conference was also held in memory of Michael Clyne – eminent linguist, scholar, language enthusiast and advocate of multilingualism who died in October 2010. The volume pays homage to his important contributions in many fields of linguistics and in the theory of pluricentric languages. The conference in Graz was the first international event to document the situation of non-dominant varieties world-wide in order to identify common or diverging features. It provided substantial insights into the codification and in corpus and status planning of non-dominant varieties. The volume deals with 18 languages and 31 different national and other varieties in 29 countries of the world.


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Nils LANGER: Finding non-dominant languagesin the nineteenth century – problems and potentials from historical sociolinguistics


In: Rudolf Muhr (ed.) (2012): Non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages. Getting the picture. In memory of Michael Clyne. Vienna et. al., Peter Lang Verlag. p. 83-106. Nils LANGER (Universität Kiel, Germany and University of Bristol, UK) Finding non-dominant languages in the nineteenth century – problems and potentials from historical sociolinguistics1 Abstract This chapter sketches the sociolinguistics of non-dominant languages in nineteenth-century northern Germany where 3 non-dominant and 2 dominant languages co-exist. Addressing the problem of finding robust evidence for the existence, use, and status of non-dominant languages from historical periods, this paper will offer evidence from a number of text types to demonstrate how the historical sociolinguistic reality can be reconstructed despite an impoverished data set. 1. Language contact and language conflict The coexistence of dominant vs. non-dominant languages presupposes particular types of language contact. It can be argued that any kind of language contact will result in a hierarchical ordering of the linguistic varieties involved. This does not necessarily lead to absolute preferences of one language over the other - which would surely result in language loss - but with regard to particular domains, one variety or language will be used more frequently or with more prestige than the other. Such domain-specific distribution does not necessarily lead to language conflict, however. During the Middle Ages, Latin was the un- challenged language of education and the church in Central Europe and yet its 1 I am grateful to the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation (Bonn) and the British Academy (London) for...

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