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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 27, 2008

Introduction: Ausbau is everywhere!

  • Mauro Tosco

1. A (rather longish) introduction to the introduction

An Ausbau language, to repeat Kloss's (1967: 30) original definition, is a language that has “deliberately been reshaped so as to become a vehicle of variegated literary expression.” It is a language because “it has been made” such. Its opposite is an Abstand language, a language that is there, so to speak, “by nature,” and that would be recognized as such “no matter what” by virtue of its inherent distinctiveness. With his dichotomy Kloss brought to the fore and highlighted, to use Fishman's words (this issue), “the importance of organized human intervention into the natural language-change processes.” Still, between the two terms of his dichotomic opposition, it is Ausbau that has received the greatest attention, and it is to the concept of Ausbau that Heinz Kloss owes his place among the great linguists of the past century. The reason is easily spelled out: as Fishman (this issue; here and below emphasis in the original) again notes, “Ausbau and Abstand are not really on one and the same dimension,” and “the latter term, Abstand, is entirely unneeded in any language planning typology because it lacks any reference to human agency.”

Published Online: 2008-05-27
Published in Print: 2008-May

© 2008 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin

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