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LINGUIST List 18.1219

Sun Apr 22 2007

Diss: Pragmatics/Semantics/Socioling/Text&Corpus Ling: Braun: 'Nati...'

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        1.    Christian Braun, National Socialist language use – a Reappraisal

Message 1: National Socialist language use – a Reappraisal
Date: 13-Apr-2007
From: Christian Braun <ch-a-braunweb.de>
Subject: National Socialist language use – a Reappraisal

Institution: University of Munich
Program: Department of German Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Christian Alexander Braun

Dissertation Title: National Socialist language use - A Reappraisal

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): German, Standard (deu)

Dissertation Director(s):
Elke Fröhlich
Elisabeth Leiss
Wolfgang Schindler
Hans Woller

Dissertation Abstract:

Drawing on modern analytical methods from both pragmatics and textual
linguistics this dissertation aims at a reappraisal of National Socialist
language use and - as far as this is possible - a reevaluation of its
effects. The first part of this doctoral thesis focuses on developing the
necessary theoretical basis for the description of language use in a
political and ideological context. In
the second part this theoretical basis will be applied to the indepth study
and analysis of National Socialist texts. The development of a concept of
style that goes further than the simple observation of rhetorical devices
in texts and focuses on the relationship between ideology and language is
fundamental to the theoretical conception. This doctoral thesis claims that
National Socialist language use manifests itself in diverse argumentative
routines based on the National Socialist ideology, many of which correspond
to the specific characteristics commonly attributed to National Socialist
language use.

Racism, anti-Semitism as well as elements of social Darwinism deeply
ingrained in national socialist ideology manifest themselves in biologist
metaphors (biologisms) i.e. in expressions related to the vocabulary of
fighting and war. Taking into account modern theories of metaphor which
postulate that language and thinking are structured in a homologous way,
these metaphors can be seen as important parts of the process of reasoning
in texts. An indepth analysis of argumentation is thus overwhelmingly
important for a reappraisal of National Socialist language use. The diverse
stylistic elements of National Socialist language use may by this means be
reevaluated by focusing on their uses in argumentation and reasoning.

The historical background constitutes another important aspect of the
theoretical conception. The reconstruction of communicative infrastructures
helps formulate the hypothesis that different people can be seen as central
models whose language use greatly influenced the development of a National
Socialist style. The analysis of the communicative and institutional
framework shows that a limited number of people - first and foremost
Hitler, and Goebbels as well as Rosenberg, became models whose individual
styles were copied by many others. The concept of different degrees of
diffusion concerning a typically National Socialist language style is
closely connected to the aforementioned ideas.

The practical analyses substantiate the different hypotheses. E.g.: It can
be shown that Goebbels drew heavily (ideologically as well as
stylistically) on the 'Handbuch der Judenfrage,' for example in his 1941
editorial 'Die Juden sind schuld!'. Specific stylistic elements (mainly
argumentative routines) from this book are furthermore disseminated
throughout the National Socialist party by instructional handbooks for the
party´s orators which often present texts by Goebbels as paragons to model
oneself on. Taking this into account it is
possible to reconstruct parts of National Socialism's stylistic history and
its history of ideas. Thus it is possible to circumstantiate how Goebbels
ties up to earlier anti-Semitic and folkish ideologues linguistically and
ideologically and how anti-Semitic argumentative routines are diffused.

The doctoral thesis shows that our understanding of National Socialism may
still be deepened by taking into account its language use - even after 60
years of research.

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