In This Chapter

German as a minority language, but not an official language of state

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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Many people with German as their native language live outside the territories in which German is an official language of state (Ch. D). The present chapter defines these people as speakers of German as a minority language. German-speaking minorities are relevant to the global position of German whenever they use German with German-speaking people in other countries. In such contexts, communication is international in the broader sense, because it is between native speakers. (In the case of German as a foreign language (GFL), it is international communication in the narrower sense; Ch. A.3.) But German-speaking minorities also strengthen the position of German for other reasons, e.g. if they have schools with German as a language of instruction or at least as a school subject, and media, societies or clubs. This can bring non-German-speakers into contact with German language and culture and motivate them to learn German. There are remarkable examples in Hungary, Romania and Namibia (Ch. E.4.6; E.4.7; E.4.9). German-speaking minorities also contribute to securing GFL in the school curricula in their countries.

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