What is it about?
In the 16th century the Low German written language of northern Germany and the Baltic Sea region was replaced by a High German writing language. This paper contains the edition of a letter written by a "common person" (that is not a professional scribe but rather a slate mason) from northern Germany. The letter is mostly written in Low German but contains some High German in the salutation. This language mixing is analyzed as a form of codemixing where an essentially Low German syntactic structure is filled with both Low and High German words. It is furthermore shown how the Low German writer of the letter utilizes codemixing as a linguistic strategy to cope with the challenge that High German has become the new norm in written communication.
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Why is it important?
In the spirit of a "language history from below" this paper shows what the shift of writing language means for ordinary people who are no professional scribes but still need to use written language. Rather than describing language mixing as a result of a lack in linguistic competence and as an essentially faulty language use it is proposed to see the language mixing in this letter as a result of a conscious and competent language use in the face of linguistic challenges.
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This page is a summary of: Im Spannungsfeld zwischen hochdeutscher Norm und niederdeutscher Sprachkompetenz, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, August 2021, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/18756719-12340229.
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