The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 10/20: Paul Rössler (Universität Regensburg)

Speaker: Paul Rössler (Universität Regensburg)

Time: Thursday 10/20, 12:30-1:50pm

Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/98155777682

In-person location: 32-D461

Title: Comma and prefield. What does German orthography tell us about the relation between norm, system and language use?


In text types with distinct nominal style, such as academic texts, the writer tends to mark the extensive complex nominal phrases in front of the finite verb graphically by comma placement. Meanwhile, this phenomenon seems to have outreached the domain of academic texts. The talk reveals how widely this writing practice which is incompatible with the norms of standard German orthography has already spread. This raises the question how linguists and codifiers deal with that pervasive phenomenon of language standardization as players in the field of social forces, and which consequences this entails for teachers as norm authorities and norm mediators.

Professor Rössler is co-PI with Kai von Fintel on an MISTI seed grant on “Comparative Punctuation” and visiting MIT for a couple of weeks.