Language and Confession on the Radio

Since 2019

German Research Foundation (DFG) Project: “Your Accent Gives You Away…” – Language and Confession 500 Years After the Reformation.

Picture of DFG-Team
© Germanistisches Institut

For centuries, Christianity has strongly influenced the German language. The most recent Early Modern Age research shows that the Reformation and the following establishment of different confessions has, in fact, led to differences in the use of language between Catholics and Protestants. As far as present-day language is concerned, a big research gap regarding the relation between language and confession can be established: studies concerning the plurality of linguistic forms of expression have, as of late, barely regarded a person’s denomination as a possible linguistic variation. According to a survey conducted in 2014, however, suggestions have been put forward that Catholics and Protestants respectively are connected to different word usage as well as linguistic style, in fact even to differing textual structures. These attributions have, however, not yet been examined linguistically. This project’s aim is therefore to analyse texts of contemporary religious segments on public radio stations by looking at different linguistic levels such as choice of topic, textual structure, syntax, word formation as well as lexis and to ascertain whether confessional differences in the usage of language can still be found today – 500 years after the Reformation. This will add an important chapter to the study of German language history.