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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2021

How many Natives with how many Systems? Intra-individual Variation and the Threshold of Multilingualism in Standard German Speakers

Simon Pröll


Using the current nativisation of Standard German - and the resulting problem of estimating the number of native speakers of Standard German - as an example, this chapter discusses whether the intra-individual variation (IAV) of speakers using closely related varieties is a form of monolingualism with internal variation (suggesting inherent variability of just one system, allowing for output in multiple varieties) or a form of multilingualism (with variation occurring between two or more discrete systems of one speaker). The chapter provides arguments for the latter, ultimately arguing that intra-individual variation is best understood as the most basic form of multilingualism. From this perspective, monolingualism is not an empirical concept, but a purely theoretical one that marks the hypothetical endpoint of change processes such as standardisation and nativisation.

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