LINGUIST List 9.1493

Sun Oct 25 1998

Disc: The Fight over German Spelling

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. manaster, The fight over German spelling

Message 1: The fight over German spelling

Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 21:35:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: manaster <>
Subject: The fight over German spelling

I am surprised not to have seen any discussion here of
the ongoing fight over the reform of German spelling
which is being widely resisted in Germany (presumably
in other German-writing countries, too, but I have
no information on this). All I know of this is what
I read in the popular press, but there are at least
two points that seem clear and of general interest
to linguists (I would hope).

(1) Many people in Germany blame "die Herren
Linguisten" for the reform, but it is not clear
to me whether it was really linguists or rather
some other kind of language scholars who were
in fact responsible.

(2) The resistance to the reform seems 
to a significant extent to involve the idea
that the German-writing people at large have
the right to determine the spelling and that
neither academics nor bureaucrats
should have that right. As far as I can
see, this is a relatively rare instance
of what I myself have been calling for,
the democratization of linguistic correctness
(although presumably some of the language
reform activity in Norway would fall in
the same rubric).

Alexis MR
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