Module Identifier GE30420  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Dr Winifred V Davies  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite GE20420 (Normally)  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   4  
  Lecture   20  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Presentation: (seminar presentation)  20%
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 4,000 word essay  80%
Supplementary Exam 1 x 2 hour examination if continuous assessment submitted. 1 x 3 examination if no continuous assessment submitted.100%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
By the end of this course students will be familiar with some major themes in contemporary German sociolinguistics. They will be familiar with theoretical and methodological aspects of the discipline and will have learnt to assess critically research carried out in the German-speaking countries in terms of methodology and theoretical underpinning. They will have learnt to carry out independent empirical research, to analyse data, to construct an argument, and to express themselves in a suitable register. The oral presentation fosters team-skills and oral expression.

Brief description

The module examines the interrelations between language and society in the German-speaking countries, providing a thorough grounding in the sociolinguistics of these countries and highlighting the contrast between contemporary and traditional approaches to the study of variation in German. Through a study of a selection of major topics in contemporary German sociolinguistics, students will be introduced to and encouraged to assess critically research carried out in the German-speaking countries. They will also, where necessary, be required to familiarise themselves with the work of sociolinguists from outside the German-speaking tradition where these have contributed to the development of sociolinguistic theory in the German-speaking countries.


The following topics will be covered:

1. Earlier approaches to variation: the aims and concerns of the dialectological school compared with the aims and concerns of modern sociolinguistics; a critical comparison of dialectological and sociolinguistic methodology. Background reading: Barbour & Stevenson (1990), 18-21, 55-74; Chambers, J.K. & Trudgill, P. (1980), Dialectology, Chapter 2.

2. Characteristics of the development of a standard language: how 'natural' is the development? Selection, acceptance, elaboration of function, codification. Development of the German standard language. Background reading: Barbour & Stevenson (1990), 45-53; Keller (1978), 485-509; LGL, Chapter 35; Sauer & Glueck, in Stevenson (1995), Chapter 4.

3. Maintenance of the standard: prescription, linguistic criticism, Sprachkritik, complaint tradition, attitudes towards non-standard usage. Background reading: Braun (1987), 228f; Guenther (1988); Hass (1988); Milroy & Milroy (1985), 2.2.

4. Pluricentricity: how many national varieties of German are/were there? Linguistic and political criteria for pluricentric status of a language; evaluation of these criteria. Arguments for the pluricentric status of German (cf. Clyne (1995), Chapter 1) and against (cf. Fox (1990), 288-93).

5. Linguistic characteristics and social status of the German standard language as used in Austria, the FRG, the former GDR and Switzerland; diglossia in Switzerland. Background reading: LGL, Chapters 58, 59; Clyne (1995), Chapters 1, 2, 3; Russ (1994), Chapters 3, 4, 5; Fasold, R., (1984), The Sociolinguistics of Society, Chapter 2.

6. Language and ideology: What is the relationship between language and reality? Sexism in German. Background reading: Townson (1992), Chapter 4; Hellinger, in Stevenson (1995), Chapter 12; Pusch (1984), 46-68, 76-108.

Note:   Students should keep up with the background reading, topic by topic.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Background
Barbour, S. & Stevenson, P. (1990) Variation in German. CUP
Clyne, M. (1995) The German language in a changing Europe. CUP
Keller, R. E. (1978) The German language. Faber
Stevenson, P. (1995) The German language and the Real World. Clarendon


This module is at CQFW Level 6