Standard Language and Standardization Processes in the History of English



Zeit/Ort n.V.:

  • Mo 12:15-13:45, Raum C 301

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches

Das Hauptseminar Linguistics gehört in folgenden Studiengängen jeweils zu folgenden Modulen:

  • MA English Studies: English Historical Linguistics (+ Übung)

  • MA Linguistik: English Historical Linguistics (+ Übung)

  • Lehramt Englisch an Gymnasien: Hauptmodul L-Gym Linguistics

  • BA English and American Studies: Hauptmodul A (+ Übung)

The workload for this class comprises reading tasks on a weekly basis and assignments. Further you will be asked to either prepare a group presentation to provide background information for plenary discussions or to chair such discussions.


For speakers of Present-Day English and German it may seem obvious that we should have a standard language that is e.g. taught in school and used by news presenters. Nevertheless, this has not always been the case. In the course of its history, English has undergone different standardisation processes. In the Old English period, the West Saxon dialect served as a written standard. After the Norman Conquest, English lost its status as a high variety to Latin and French and consequently the Middle English period is typically referred to as the standardless period of English. Only towards the end of the Middle English period did a new English standard begin to emerge. ? Southern British English was, however, not the only variety to witness standardisation processes. Scots, for instance, had acquired many functions of a standard language in the sixteenth century but did not complete this process, in part due to anglicising influences after the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1603.
In this class participants will learn about the various stages of and different theoretical approaches to standardisation processes and apply them to different periods and varieties of English in their respective socio-cultural and historical backgrounds.

This class is also recommended for students preparing for the diachronic part (Altenglisch* or *Mittelenglisch) of the Staatsexamen Englische Sprachwissenschaft (Lehramt Gymasium).