Standard German in the eighteenth century

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This chapter presents an account of the German standard language in the eighteenth century by discussing the problems of finding spoken- and non-standard language phenomena during a century when virtually all texts were written in the prestige variety. It identifies a number of grammatical changes attested for the standard language and compares the findings with the history of five variants stigmatized as poor or bad German during this century. Such stigmatized variants are hardly attested in the printed language but can be found in informal and private writing from the period. This demonstrates how the corpus of printed text customarily used in the language historiography of eighteenth-century does not account for the true extent of language use in this period.


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