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Title:Promoting and monitoring Low German: education policies and ideologies of language in the northern German Bundesländer
Author(s):Schwenk, Andrew Charles
Advisor(s):Fagyal, Zsuzsanna
Contributor(s):Vander Most, Neil
Department / Program:Liberal Arts & Sciences
Discipline:European Union Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):European Union (EU)
Low German
Minority language revitalization
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML)
Council of Europe (CoE)
Education policy
Language policy
Northern Germany
Abstract:The passage of the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), an international treaty of the Council of Europe, in the 1990s represented a revolutionary step in the protection and promotion of endangered regional or minority languages in Europe. Its aim, which is to strengthen the status of lesser spoken languages as part of Europe’s cultural heritage, is also emblematic of the European Union project’s motto: “unity in diversity.” In shifting focus from mere tolerance to active promotion of linguistic diversity via coordinated policy and planning actions with the ratifying state parties, the ECRLM (henceforth, Charter) is a truly unique legal instrument that has greatly contributed to the enhancement of the status of formerly contested regional language varieties and their regional revival. One of the languages that has benefitted from the Charter’s active protection is Low German—the heritage language of northern Germany and parts of the northeastern areas of the Netherlands. This thesis analyzes the Charter’s success in fostering this language in the field of education and how the policies meant to accomplish this goal have shed light on ideas about the language. Germany’s State Periodical Reports and the Committee of Experts’ evaluation reports for Germany, both mandated by the Charter, will serve as primary sources analyzed through the lens of a framework proposed by François Grin that evaluates efficacy of language policies in creating self-sustaining languages. The thesis finds that while many of the education policies adopted by the northern German states in support of Low German have been successful, there is still more work to be done, especially in primary and secondary schools, to ensure the vitality of the idiom. Furthermore, the thesis further hypothesizes that the ways in which these policies have been implemented show that Low German is being developed according to separate regional and cultural standards, i.e., as a unique, regionally and culturally distinct variety of German.
Issue Date:2017-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Andrew Schwenk
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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