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The Making of Bad Language

Lay Linguistic Stigmatisations in German: Past und Present


Winifred V. Davies and Nils Langer

This book is a contribution to the history of non-standard or bad German. The origin and development of standard German was a complex process and many factors were involved in the selection, non-selection and de-selection of variants, as well as the initial promotion of certain varieties of German to supraregional status. The interest here is in non-selection and de-selection of variants and so the study focuses especially on questions such as: Why were certain constructions ignored in the formation of standard German grammar and why were others explicitly judged ill-suited for inclusion in the prestige variety? Who was responsible for these stigmatisations and what reasons were given? And finally, how was the knowledge that one shouldn’t use particular constructions transmitted to the language users? At the heart of this study are case studies of 11 morphosyntactic features of bad German as found in a selection of texts produced by norm makers, from 1600 to 2005, all of them salient Zweifelsfälle of modern German.
Contents: Lay linguistics – Standardisation – Prescriptivism – History of standard German – Stigmatisations – Schools – Language norm authorities – Grammarians and prescriptivism – Usage vs. prescriptivism – Relationship between codex and bad German.