Policies for promoting the German language in the world

Authored by: Ulrich Ammon , David Charlston

The Position of the German Language in the World

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138717657
eBook ISBN: 9781315157870
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter is primarily concerned with government policies on language/s, which are orientated – as a component of a country’s foreign policy – towards foreign states and territories. Terminology in German for policies of this kind is not unified. The following terms are largely synonymous but with a different emphasis:

External language policy (ELP) [Auswärtige Sprachpolitik/ ASP] (Andrei/ Rittberger 2009; A. Schneider 2000), as a component of External cultural policy (ECP) [Auswärtige Kulturpolitik/ AKP], which, in turn, is part of Foreign Policy (FP) [Außenpolitik/ AP] (ELP ⊂ ECP ⊂ FP). The opposite term is Internal/ Domestic [Innere] Language Policy etc. Since 2000 (Ch. K.3.2), the designation for ECP in Germany has been expanded to External Cultural and Educational Policy (ECEP) [Auswärtige Kultur- und Bildungspolitik/ AKBP], although External cultural policy (ECP) is still used.

More technical terms are: External Language Promotion [Förderungs-] Policy (ELPP) (also External Language Promotion) – with variations such as External Language-Spread [Verbreitungs-] Policy (ELSP) and External Language Maintenance [Erhalt/ ungs-] Policy (ELMP) (ELPP = ELSP ∪ ELMP; Ammon 1991a: 524–528), although these abbreviations are seldom used.

Within sociolinguistics, designations would be plausible, but hardly occur, such as External Language Status Policy or External Language Corpus Policy, corresponding to the distinction between Language Status Planning and Language Corpus Planning (Haugen 1966, 1987), or External Language Position Policy, which not only relates to status in the legal sense but also to the function or use of the language (Ch. D.1).

By contrast, the term Language Export is impractical because of the possibility of misunderstanding, since – by way of distinction from other exports – no change of ownership takes place.

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