Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens
Reprint from the 1885 edition
Newly edited by Konrad Koerner (University of Ottawa), with an introduction by Clemens Knobloch (Universitat Siegen)The importance of Wegener's Untersuchungen uber die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens can only be compared to that of Karl Buhler's Sprachtheorie. Even now, however, Wegener's work remains virtually unknown to the English speaking world. Wegener's main work was published in 1885. It has its origin in two lectures given in 1883 and 1884 at school teacher meetings held in the Magdeburg area and it still recalls those original occasions and maintains much of the oral style. Part of the volume treats the subject in a systematic and theoretical manner; other sections contain vivid examples and are characterized by a considerable didactic effort. The book is held together by leitmotif-questions, such as 'How do we understand language?' and 'How does language function as a means of everyday communication?'. We witness the experiences of the talented school teacher and the observations of the innovative dialect researcher combined, condensed, and conceptually ordered.In spite of the relatively unsystematic form of presentation, the book remains thoroughly consistent in thought and argument. In the Untersuchungen we have before us the outline of a communicative and functional view of language structure, of the analysis of speech, and of semantics.