Chapter 19. Europe’s multilingualism in the context of a European culture of standard languages

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Starting from the central DYLAN question as to the conditions under which Europeans consider multilingualism as an advantage or as a drawback, the present chapter primarily discusses the historical aspects of European multilingualism. Methodically, many of the aspects dealt with are based on an analytical grid which illustrates the interrelations between the four research areas: “domains”, “language attitudes”, “language policies” and “contexts”. The fifth area “tranversal issues” (Geneva, Vienna, Berlin) and especially the aims of the Berlin research team run at right angles to this, touching on all four areas and offering a historical retrospective which provides a general overview of past and present forms of European multilingualism. Perhaps surprisingly, we depart from the assumption that the often invisible occurrences and forms of multilingualism in European history can be illuminated by taking a detour into comparative research into European standardisation histories. Thematically, the article uses examples to focus on indexicality and the social aspects of (individual) multilingualism by conducting a comparative analysis of certain periods (16th, 19th/20th and 21st century) and of distinguishable occurrences/forms (prestigious, plebeian) and trends/concepts (territoriality, non-standard, correctness, egalitarian). The mechanisms operative in the fields of linguistic attitudes and usages during the various European standardisation periods are considered from a macro-perspective. One of the focuses here is on the varied and context-specific traditions of foreign language learning from the Middle Ages where multilingualism was part of self-evident practice up to the present day and on the rediscovery of European multilingualism (19th century) which was, for example, accompanied by a fundamental critique (from the late 19th century onwards) of the principle of territoriality and uniformity. Among other things, the final section presents proposals for the periodisation of the different stages of standardisation in Europe.


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