LINGUIST List 15.546

Wed Feb 11 2004

Diss: Socioling: Pfalzgraf: 'Neopuristische...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. falcopfalzgraf, Neopuristische Bestrebungen in Deutschland

Message 1: Neopuristische Bestrebungen in Deutschland

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 11:21:20 -0500 (EST)
From: falcopfalzgraf <>
Subject: Neopuristische Bestrebungen in Deutschland

Institution: University of Manchester
Program: Department of German
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Falco Pfalzgraf

Dissertation Title: Neopuristische Bestrebungen in Deutschland

Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics

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

Subject Language Family: Germanic (code: IEF)

Dissertation Director 1: Martin Durrell

Dissertation Abstract:

Most linguists agree that German linguistic purism came to an end with
the abolition of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Sprachverein (ADSV) in
1940. However, since the late 1990s, the debate about the use of
foreign words in German has become increasingly intense. Whilst few
German politicians commented on the subject between the end of World
War II and the 1990s, a number of high-profile politicians from all
parties have recently criticised the alleged overuse of anglicisms and
for the first time since the 1930s there have been demands for laws to
protect the German language. Strongly related to this is the fact that
an increasing number of private organisations for the defence of the
language have emerged in Germany since the early 1990s. Some have a
remarkably large number of members and frequently disseminate their
opinions in the media, whilst others are much smaller and less
influential, although their aims are similar or identical. In
addition, more and more individuals have set up private internet
homepages in order to combat the so-called "flood" of anglicisms.

Such opposition to the influence of foreign words on German is not
new. Organisations for the defence and promotion of the language have
existed in Germany since the seventeenth century. However, the
question must be asked whether the current opposition to anglicisms is
to be seen as the emergence of a new phase of linguistic purism in
Germany, more than fifty years after it appeared to have come to an
end. To answer this question it is necessary to look at the
similarities and differences between purist movements in the past and
at the present time. The present thesis takes as its basis the work of
Andreas Gardt and George Thomas, according to which discourses which
are typical of previous purist movements can be identified. A
selection of publications of present-day self-appointed guardians of
the language is analysed in terms of these discourses; the material
considered ranges from private and statesubsidised language protection
organisations to books and websites published by individuals. The
attitude of contemporary linguists to these developments is also
examined in detail.

Through analysing the discourses of these publications it could be
demonstrated very clearly that there are striking similarities between
the discourses of present-day language protectors and those of purist
movements of the past. The investigation shows that both the private
language protection organisations and the individual language
protectors can be considered to belong to a current neo-purist
movement in Germany. State-subsidised language protection
organisations, however, do not share these purist attitudes, and
neither do the linguists. This neo-purist movement began in the late
1990s, and according to our view the way in which the typical
discourses constitute themselves in the analysed material leads to the
conclusion that there is a connection between the current hostility
toward anglicisms and the German unification of 1989. However, in
contrast to other researchers, we consider that that this neo-purism
should not simply be seen as a manifestation of nationalism, but in
connection with Germany's earch for a new political role in Europe and
the world, and as an expression of the fact that unification has once
again raised the question of German national identity.
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