Language society

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The German language societies of the 17th and 18th centuries were associations that focused on “ language work ”. A contemporary term was German societies . The term language society was coined in the early 19th century. Today's associations of this type are called language associations .

Well-known language societies

The best known German language societies were:

17th century
18th century

Smaller language societies

Other smaller linguistic societies of the 17th century are less well known:

  • The Sincere Fir Company
  • The nine-year-old Hänseschaft
  • The poetic shamrock
  • The Laureate Pigeon Order
  • The Leopold Order

Of these societies, only the Pegnese Flower Order still exists today . The Fruit Bringing Society was re-established on January 18, 2007 as the “ New Fruit Bringing Society in Köthen / Anhalt - Association for the Care of the German Language ”.

"Language work"

The cultivation of the German language is called "language work" in the 17th century, "language cleaning" since the end of the 18th century and "language maintenance" since the end of the 19th century until today.

Under language work is to not only prominent in the early 17th century efforts purity of using foreign words interspersed German language to understand, even if the purism in program and practice of companies played a major role.

Language work meant above all the joint research and promotion of one's own language and literature with the aim of bringing them to life within European literature. This was done by translating important foreign-language works into German, as well as fundamentally reflecting on questions of vocabulary , grammar and poetics .

Mostly by letter exchange of ideas, suggestions and tips were given, criticism was raised, joint literary and scientific ventures were considered and agreement was reached on issues relating to publishing and printing costs. The result of such efforts is in the form of poetics, grammars, translations and the first German dictionary . These societies were founded by men and women from among the nobility and scholars.

Influence and effect

The linguistic societies found an ambivalent reception in their time and later: the maintenance of the purity of language in speaking and writing (i.e. freedom from foreign words, dialect expressions and grammatical errors) and in rhymes (i.e. poetry) was recognized on the one hand.

On the other hand, as with the Meistersingers , poetry appeared as something that could be taught and learned (normative poetics), but this time it was reinforced by the fact that one believed that one could learn poetry from foreign models, namely from ancient but also from French , Italian and Dutch .

In addition, the eradication and Germanization of foreign words was occasionally exaggerated and was criticized for this by critics such as B. Grimmelshausen covered with biting mockery. So z. B. day candlestick for windows, Virgin kennel for convent, Zitterweh for fever, Meuchelpuffer for gun. However, other Germanizations were successful, such as B. diary for diary, epilogue for epilogue, moment by moment, century for seculum, linguistic theory for grammar, stage for theater or last will for testament.

The cultural patriotic endeavors of the linguistic societies always met with particular approval when German studies as a "German science" was ready to commit itself to similar goals. For a long time, the linguistic societies were regarded as the noble ancestors of the Allgemeine Deutsche Sprachverein , founded in 1885 , which gratefully appealed to them in its fight against "corruption and foreigners".


  • Heinz Engels: The Language Societies of the 17th Century . Schmitz, Giessen 1983.
  • Karl F. Otto: The language societies of the 17th century. JB Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 1972.
  • Christoph Stoll: Linguistic Societies in Germany of the 17th Century. Paul List-Verlag, Munich 1973 (with numerous sources: publications by language societies and testimonials from leading members).

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Linguistic society  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b German Societies
  2. ^ Heinz Engels: Language Societies of the 17th Century. Giessen: Schmitz 1983.