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Classics Revisited

Wegbereiter der Linguistik neu gelesen


Alastair G.H. Walker

Wie haben frühere Linguistinnen und Linguisten die Entwicklung der Linguistik beeinflusst? Welche Bedeutung haben ihre Werke für die heutige linguistische Forschung? Die in diesem Band versammelten Beiträge gehen diesen Fragen nach mit einer Analyse des Wirkens von acht Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern, deren Arbeiten als wegweisend für die heutige Linguistik gelten können. Die Werke der hier behandelten Personen erstrecken sich über einen Zeitraum vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart und vertreten die Fachrichtungen Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Phonetik, Anglistik, Germanistik, Romanistik und Slavistik. Die Themen umfassen u.a. Grammatiktheorie, Sprachgeschichte und Soziolinguistik und schließen einen Überblick über die Entwicklung der Linguistik in Großbritannien ein.
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William Labov und sein Beitrag zu Sprachwandeltheorien


Abstract: This chapter investigates William Labov’s contribution to theories of language change. It argues that synchronic sociolinguistics with its focus on the investigation of “orderly heterogeneity” can close the gap in our understanding of how language changes continuously, and answer several paradoxes of language change that have puzzled historical linguists before. Rather than being invisible, language change is actually happening before our very eyes, and variationist sociolinguistics makes visible the synchronic variation that is entailed by diachronic change. Sociolinguistics can also explain why changes can continue to move in the same direction over generations, and how language can remain functional in the face of pervasive language change. Rather than assume the dysfunctionality of variability in language, sociolinguistics stresses the social functions that language variation has, and investigates the extralinguistic factors that influence variation.

1.   Einführung

[N]o one has ever said, „I really like the way young people talk today, it’s so much better than the way we talked when I was growing up.“ ... The most general and most deeply held belief about language is the Golden Age Principle: At some time in the past, language was in a state of perfection. It is understood that in such a state, every sound was correct and beautiful, and every word and expression was proper, accurate, and appropriate. Furthermore, the decline from that state has been regular and persistent, so that every change represents a falling away from the golden age, rather than a return...

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