Processes of transfer from / in Early Modern foreign language textbooks

Sub-project by Julia Hübner

The sub-project addresses the question of norm and variation within the textbooks. What linguistic knowledge was regarded as relevant/adequate? What (language) skills were taken for granted? What kind of knowledge was explicitly taught and what was subliminally communicated? 

At a higher level, several aspects of validity claims have to be taken into account. There is, for example, the claim to authority of the different authors, whose language proficiency could vary, especially regarding authors of multilingual texts. Also, the reliability of the authoritative self-ascriptions found in introductions and paratexts of some textbooks has to be challenged. In addition, possible mistranslations or systematic contortions caused by language transfer processes have to be considered.

A special focus is placed on the critical discussion of the respective validity claims. Since the standardisation of German took place after the period investigated for this project (even though early tendencies and attempts have been noted for the 17th c.), questions concerning linguistic correctness (and authoritative knowledge thereof) are therefore expected to have a special status due to a higher tolerance for linguistic variation. It will be interesting to examine whether or not the texts reflect on different registers. These research questions will provide new insights into implicit knowledge and attitudes of societies in pre-standardised times. Moreover, the textbooks represent a highly interesting case of media refraction: Everyday routines are defined by contemporary accepted grammatical and social norms, but they are also discursively negotiable (at least up to a certain degree) as are most socially relevant aspects of language use.