Ulrich Ammon

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Ulrich Ammon (born July 3, 1943 in Backnang ; † May 3, 2019 ) was a German linguist specializing in sociolinguistics .


Ammon worked for many years at the Gerhard Mercator University of Duisburg (later University of Duisburg-Essen ). In 1974 he became a scientific advisor and professor and in 1980 he was professor of German linguistics with a focus on sociolinguistics; several times he worked as dean . After his retirement in 2008, he continued to work. He has held numerous visiting professorships and spent a long time in Australia (Univ. Of Sydney; Australian Nat. Univ., Canberra), USA (Wesleyan Univ., Middletown / Conn; Univ. Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Japan (Dokkyo -Univ., Soka) and Austria ( Vienna) on. He also held short-term visiting professorships in Egypt , China , Greece , India , Italy , Japan, Latvia , Namibia , Russia , Turkey and Hungary . Studies mainly in Tübingen , but also in Göttingen , Frankfurt am Main and Middletown / Conn. , USA (Fulbright Fellow. Wesleyan Univ.); in Tübingen and at Wesleyan Univ. he also worked in teaching and research.

The main research areas were sociolinguistics and language sociology , international language research , language politics , dialectology , recent history of the German language, language didactics .

Ammon was the author or co-author of 14 monographs , around 300 articles and over 100 reviews , editor of around 30 books and 3 book series, co-editor and member of the editorial board of several journals. He was a member of several scientific organizations and from 2003 to 2006 President of the Society for Applied Linguistics (GAL).

Research priorities

In the earlier years, starting with the dissertation , Ammon dealt mainly with the social origin of dialect speakers and their language-related difficulties in school and at work (e.g. dialect, social inequality and school 1972/73; school difficulties of dialect speakers 1978), from which also supportive ones Teaching materials for school emerged ( Swabian . In: Dialekt / Hochsprache - kontrastiv, Sprachhefte für das Deutschunterricht 4 1977, together with Uwe Loewer). In the context of his extensive empirical research on this complex of topics, Ammon developed various relevant measurement techniques, such as the " dialect level " (quantitative mapping of speech utterances on scales that extend between dialect and standard language ) or attitudes towards dialect and standard language and their speakers. He contributed to a pan-European interest in questions of “dialect as a language barrier” and dialect sociology.

Starting from the dialect-sociological questions, Ammon developed a general interest in questions of the position of varieties and languages ​​in societies with several varieties or languages ​​and the consequences for their speakers (see, for example, the volume Status and Function of Languages ​​and Language Varieties 1989), for which he constructed various description models. - From here the path led to a thorough investigation of the international position of languages, especially German (for example, The international position of the German language 1991). In this context, there are also extensive studies on the role of German in international science communication , on its suppression by English and on the current difficulties faced by non-Anglophone scholars in international communication (e.g. is German still an international scientific language? English also for university teaching in the German-speaking countries 1998; English as an Academic Language in Europe 2002, together with Grant McConnell; Linguistic Inequality in Scientific Communication Today 2007, together with Augusto Carli) as well as the further development of theoretical approaches for the “global language system”.

From dialect sociology, Ammon also developed a sociolinguistic theory of the standardization of languages, more specifically on the social forces that determine the standard of languages, i.e. decide which forms are correct (see several articles). These are primarily the language codifiers, the model speakers and writers, the language experts and the language standard authorities. The first draft of this theory of standardization can be found in Chap. A.4 of the book The German Language in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The problem of national varieties (1995). Above all, however, German is comprehensively conceived and described as a “ pluricentric language ” for the first time in this book . Pluricentric is a language that has developed standard linguistic peculiarities for different nations or regions - different, co-applicable, locally correct forms. In the case of German, this applies to different nations (e.g. Germany and Austria) and to different regions (e.g. northern and southern Germany). From his relevant research, Ammon provided the theoretical foundation for the variant dictionary of German (2004), which he initiated and collaborated with researchers from Austria (Jakob Ebner, Hans Moser and others) and Switzerland ( Hans Bickel , Heinrich Löffler and others ) wrote. It is the first dictionary in the world that contains all national and regional standard language peculiarities for a whole language and only these and specifies the exact national and regional scope for each variant. For this purpose, a special article structure had to be developed, which in the future can also serve as a model for corresponding dictionaries for other pluricentric languages ​​( English , French , Spanish , Portuguese , Chinese , Arabic , Dutch and others).


As an author
  • 2016. [Together with Hans Bickel and Alexandra Lenz] German dictionary of variants. The standard language in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium and South Tyrol as well as Romania, Namibia and Mennonite settlements. Completely reworked 2nd edition Berlin / Boston: de Gruyter (916 + LXXVIII p.). [First edition 2004 excluding Romania, Namibia and Mennonite settlements].
  • 2015. The position of the German language in the world. Berlin / Munich / Boston: de Gruyter. (1295 + XVII p.). English edition: 2019. The Position of the German Language in the World . Translated by David Charlston. New York: Routledge. (646 p.)
  • 2002. [With Grant McConnell] English as an Academic Language in Europe. A Survey of its Use in Teaching (Duisburg papers on linguistics and cultural studies 48). Frankfurt a. M. etc .: long. (204 p.)
  • 1998. Is German still an international scientific language? English also for university teaching in German-speaking countries. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. (339 p.)
  • 1995. The German language in Germany, Austria and Switzerland . The problem of national varieties. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. (575 p.)
  • 1991. The international position of the German language. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. (633 pages)
  • 1991. Motives for study and image of German among Australian German students. Wiesbaden / Stuttgart: Steiner (German language in Europe and overseas 14). (196 p.)
  • 1972. Dialect, Social Inequality, and School. Weinheim / Basel: Beltz. (Beltz Study Book, Pragmalinguistics 2) [Erw. 1973 edition]. (193 pages)
As editor
  • 2004–2006 [together with Nobert Dittmar / Klaus J. Mattheier / Peter Trudgill] Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Sociolinguistics: an international handbook of the science of language and society, 3 vols. 2., completely revised. Edition Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. (Handbooks for Linguistics and Communication Studies 3). (2622 p.)
  • 2001. The Dominance of English as a Language of Science. Effects on the Non-English Languages ​​and Language Communities. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter (Contributions to the Sociology of Language 84). (478 p.)
  • 1989. Status and Function of Languages ​​and Language Varieties. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. (665 p.)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. News from May 3, 2019 at uni-due.de/germanistik/ (accessed on May 9, 2019).