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  • Standardization: Studies from the Germanic languages ed. by Andrew R. Linn, Nicola McLelland
  • K. Aaron Smith
Standardization: Studies from the Germanic languages. Ed. by Andrew R. Linn and Nicola McLelland. (Current issues in linguistic theory 235.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002. Pp. 248. ISBN 1588113663. $107 (Hb).

Following the introduction by Nicola McClelland and Andrew R. Linn to Standardization: Studies from the Germanic languages, the fourteen articles are divided into three sections. In the first section, ‘Diffusing and shaping the standard’, Ana Deumert (‘Standardization and social networks: The emergence and diffusion of standard Afrikaans’) shows that the traditional focus on strong ties in social network theory is insufficient for an account of standardization of Afrikaans. Wim Vandenbussche (‘Dutch orthography in lower, middle and upper class documents in 19th-century Flanders’) concludes that standardization debates had little effect on nineteenth-century writers of Dutch for whom, instead, there was a slow process of standardization with a top-down diffusion pattern. Stefan Elspaß (‘Standard German in the 19th century? (Counter-) evidence from the private correspondence of “ordinary people” ’) discusses variation in three grammatical features reported to have been standardized by the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries. Elspaß shows that this was hardly the case and argues that the variation was partly reinforced by elementary school teachers who were unsure about their own command of the standard. Nils Langer (‘On the importance of foreign language grammars for a history of standard German’) makes the case that information from foreign language grammars can provide insight in drawing up the history of languages which he exemplifies with auxiliary tun and polynegation in German. In the final paper in this section (‘Norms and standards in 16th century Swedish orthography’), Alexander Y. Zheltukhin argues that despite spelling variation in the sixteenth century in Sweden, a set of norms was firmly established in religious writings of the time.

The next collection of papers comes under a section titled ‘Standard and identity’ and begins with a paper by Luc de Grauwe (‘Emerging mother-tongue awareness: The special case of Dutch and German in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period’) discussing the growing separation of identities among speakers of varieties of Germanic. The next article by Jetje de Groof (‘Two hundred years of language planning in Belgium’) presents the history of language planning activities in Belgium as a means of understanding the present-day language situation. Kendra Willson (‘Political inflections: Grammar and the Icelandic surname debate’) discusses arguments concerning the adoption of a European-like system of surnames in place of the traditional patronymic system in Iceland. In the final paper of this section (‘Standardization, language change, resistance and the question of linguistic threat: 18th-century English and present-day German’), Peter Hohenhaus shows that concerns about the linguistic threat of Anglicization in German are not founded.

The final section of the book, ‘Non-standardization, de-standardization and re-standardization’, begins with an article by Gerald Newton summarizing ‘The standardization of Luxembourgish’. Arthur O. [End Page 537] Sandved (‘Language planning in Norway: A bold experiment with unexpected results’) shows that despite more than one hundred years of language planning in Norway, three standard varieties have emerged, and Anthonia Feitsma (‘ “Democratic” and “elitist” trends and a Frisian standard’) argues that because speakers have not aspired to a Dutch norm, but have instead established a unique linguistic identity, the standardization of Frisian contains a strong vernacular element. Ane Kleine (‘Yiddish: No state, no status—no standard?’) gives an account of the rather remarkable standardization of Yiddish despite the lack of a political center. Finally, Marko Modiano (‘Standardization processes and the mid-Atlantic English paradigm’) discusses the emergence of a standard second language variety of English used among Europeans, which, in contradistinction to the historical prominence of British English in Europe, incorporates forms from several other Englishes.

K. Aaron Smith
Illinois State University


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