In the second half of the eighteenth century, a far-reaching change took place in the language of Southern Germany and Austria. This change from the traditional baroque Upper German written language [oberdeutsche Schreibsprache] to modern High German occurred not only in the language of printing, but also in private letters. One result of this transition is a broad variety of linguistic forms. The extensive correspondence between members of the Mozart family (father, mother, daughter, son) is an extremely useful subject for the investigation of this language variation.
After a series of introductory sections, the usage of written language by the different members of the family will be analyzed in part one of this paper. The range of variety reaches from Leopold Mozart's modern, educated German to the traditional, partly colloquial language of Mozart's mother. A separate chapter deals with W. A. Mozart's creative use of language (and varieties), his fancy for artificial jokes and word play [Sprachspiele]. Part two deals with the question of what we can learn from the written language of the letters about how the Mozarts spoke with each other and with other members of their society.