LINGUIST List 14.1668

Thu Jun 12 2003

Diss: Socioling: Geers: 'Linguistic purism in ...'

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. geersi, Linguistic purism in the history of England and

Message 1: Linguistic purism in the history of England and

Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 06:07:45 +0000
From: geersi <>
Subject: Linguistic purism in the history of England and

Status: RO

Institution: Tver State University
Program: Department of English Philology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Maria Geers 

Dissertation Title: Linguistic purism in the history of England and

Linguistic Field: 	Sociolinguistics 

Subject Language: 	German, Standard (code: GER)
			English (code: ENG)

Subject Language Family:Germanic

Dissertation Director 1: Tatiana Logutenkova

Dissertation Abstract: 

Linguistic purism as a sociolinguistic phenomenon depends on a
language situation as a whole, but not only on extralinguistic factors
of language development. Classification of the types of linguistic
purism, based on the analysis of its directions (internal or external
xenophobic types of linguistic purism) and goals (reformist,
protecting, traditional, nationalist, playful types etc.), as well as
types of puristic replacements (PRs) (archaising, ethnographic or
elitist types of linguistic purism), makes for a better understanding
of this complex phenomenon. PR, or lexical items proposed by the
purists as substitutions for some 'unnecessary' words existing in a
language, as well as the means and sources of PR formation are the
vital constituents of every puristic activity.

The comparative study of linguistic purism in the history of England
and Germany is based on four main principles. Firstly, according to
the chronological principle there may be singled out three stages of
puristic activity in England: 1) 16th/17th centuries, 2) 18th and 3)
19th centuries. In Germany there may be distinguished five different
stages of linguistic purism: 1)17th/18th century, 2) the end of the
18th/the first half of the 19th century, 3) after the foundation of
the second Reich, 4) during the First World War and 5) after the
usurpation of power by the Nazis.

Secondly, certain language situations provided for the emergence of
linguistic purism in England and Germany. So, in both countries
puristic activities first spread at the time of language
standardization (in its pre-standardization, standardization and
post-standardization stages), or they followed bi- / multi-linguism or
di- / three-glossia periods.

Thirdly, linguistic purism was of different types, and had different
goals and directions in various periods of the development of the
English and German languages. So, the first stage of puristic activity
in England and Germany was of the reformist type with the aim to
reform and resuscitate the language. In the 18th century, i.e. in the
situation of language standardization, linguistic purism both in
England and Germany was of elitist type when English and German
scholars and antiquaries tried to fix the English and German language
standards and prevent them from 'unnecessary' internal pollution (all
sorts of barbarisms). The 19th century saw two types of linguistic
purism in England: xenophobic (i.e. directed against loanwords)
represented by William Barnes and the poets G.M. Hopkins and W.Morris,
etc. and elitist purism represented by G.Graham, A.Bain and other
language critics. The xenophobic purism was not successful in
England. In Germany, on the contrary, xenophobic type of linguistic
purism prevailed all through the 19th till the middle of the 20th
centuries (that is from the 2nd to the 5th stages of linguistic purism
in Germany).

Fourthly, the choice of the means and sources of PR formation at
different stages of linguistic purism made for the success or failure
of puristic activity in England and Germany. The most productive means
and sources of PR formation both for English and German purists were
affixation mainly with the help of the native affixes, compounding,
calquing, archaic and obsolete vocabulary and English and German

Such method of the comparative study has allowed to find out the
similarities and differences of puristic activity in England and
Germany and examine the reasons for success or failure of linguistic
purism in these two countries.
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