Variation in (Sub)standard language
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Abstract. This article discusses the structure of working class language use {Arbeitersprache) in Bruges during the 19th century. It will be demonstrated that the written language of this 'silent majority' of the population was a defective and ill-construed code, displaying defects at all linguistic levels, and consequently testifying of semi-literacy or near-literacy. Through a set of representative text samples, we will discuss such features as inconsequent spelling, word omission, unfinished sentences, lack of coherence and stylistic unstableness. Through a comparison of examples from the beginning and the end of the 19th century, written by both trade servants and masters, it will be shown that defective language use was not limited to lower groups of the working class, nor to the earlier years of the century. At the end of this article, we will argue that a discussion of 19th century language use (and of 'Arbeitersprache' in particular) should not only concentrate on the writer's social class; social processes like literacy and schooling, which go beyond class boundaries, may have a far higher explanatory value in these matters.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error