German in international business communication

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:

10.4324/9781315157870-6

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Abstract

The focus of this book so far has been on the speakers of German (compared with other languages), on their numerical and economic strength, and their distribution between nations and regions. Our attention now moves over to individual, large-scale subdivisions or sectors of society, which I shall call (social) action fields. They are broader than the “domains” familiar in sociolinguistics (Ch. E.2: VI), which refer to narrower situational types, such as family, friends, school, workplace and similar. These are relevant in sociolinguistics and especially for the present book in so far as they are associated with specific linguistic expectations or norms, including the choice of languages and varieties (Fishman 1972b; Ammon 1989b: 70–78; Werlen 2004). By contrast, the broader action fields can cover several domains and therefore also include different types of language choice; but all these domains are interconnected by common social purposes, goals and values of the individuals acting in them; they may also be linked by specific legal provisions. Action fields include e.g. business economics, science, politics, art (or different branches of art subdivided by media), sport and tourism. For example, the action field of business economics, includes extremely diverse institutions (production, trading, banks etc.), in each case with different domains (e.g. manufacturing, distribution, management etc.). “Action fields are interconnected complexes of purposes with action situations relevant to vocational, personal and social life. They are always multidimensional because they link together vocational, social and individual problems” (www.wikipedia.de: Handlungsfeld). It is difficult to provide a more precise, general definition because of overlapping, e.g. if some of the domains and actions attributable to action field A can, at the same time, be allocated to action field B, and others to action field C etc. The examples, such as, economics, science, diplomacy (politics) (Ch. F; G; H) etc. also overlap to some extent but they must suffice for our present purpose. At any rate, I was not able to find a disjoint system and shall therefore concentrate on those action fields which seemed particularly relevant to the global position of languages.

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