‘Cultural morphology’

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Cultural morphology originated in the 1920s in the context of German ‘Volksforschung’. For German dialectology, it became attractive because of the inherent promise to overcome its political isolation stemming from the traditional preoccupation with the history of mere sounds and forms. Dialectologists saw a chance to save themselves and find protection under the semantic umbrella of German ‘Volk’ and ‘Kultur’. Cultural morphology was shaped in strategic compe­tition with the rising French sociology of language and dialect. Reframed as Kultur­morpholo­gie, dialectology became modern, dynamic and sociological. As a model approach within Kulturraum­forschung, dialectology managed to gain promi­nence and a high reputation in the field of Geisteswissenschaften – as well as am­ple financial fund­ing by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. While neogramma­rian dialectolo­gists were ridiculed as unworthy Lautschieber, cultural morphology became the most prominent branch of applied linguistics in Germany and remained in a hege­monic position for at least 40 years.


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