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The University of Southampton

GERM1002 Introduction to German Linguistic Studies

Module Overview

This module will help you understand how modern German has evolved and introduce you to ways of analysing and describing ‘language in use’ in relation to contemporary German from sociolinguistic and pragmatic perspectives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the emergence of modern standard German;
  • the role of language in the study of historical processes and forms of cultural production (literary texts, films, television, popular music etc);
  • different dimensions of linguistic variation and change in German (temporal, geographical, situational, social);
  • appropriate metalanguage for describing and analysing linguistic variation;
  • basic principles of discourse analysis;
  • how meaning is determined in context.
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse authentic linguistic data from a sociolinguistic perspective, identifying key variables and explaining their significance;
  • demonstrate the ability to learn and use new concepts appropriately.
  • identify the main differences between spoken and written German texts;
  • elicit and interpret attitudes towards language variation;
  • explain how communication depends on different kinds of knowledge (not merely linguistic);
  • transcribe recordings of spoken texts using appropriate notation;
  • conduct small-scale empirical exercises involving the design and collection of linguistic data;
  • participate effectively in group discussions;
  • carry out problem-solving activities both individually and in small groups;
  • give a clear and concise presentation of the results of these tasks in class, using visual aids where appropriate;


This module will help you understand how modern German has evolved and introduce you to ways of analysing and describing ‘language in use’ in relation to contemporary German from sociolinguistic and pragmatic perspectives. The module will begin with an exploration of the various dimensions of variation in language (past and present) and the process of standardisation, and will then consider a range of topics that will give you the opportunity to investigate the many forms and functions of language in different spoken and written contexts (e.g. patterns of address, ways of achieving understanding in conversation, hybrid forms of language in new technologies). You will be encouraged to collect your own data from all available sources (e.g. television, internet, visiting students as native speakers) and learn how to analyse this authentic material. You will also be encouraged to reflect on your own experience as language learners and on ways of using what you learn in the course of this module to enhance your ability to participate proficiently in German-speaking contexts.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There will be one double seminar/ workshop per week. You will be expected to prepare for the seminars in various ways: reading specified texts, collecting and analysing data, and preparing short group presentations.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

you will be invited to research language use in a wide range of media (print, TV, internet etc) and so you will need access to a networked computer.. 

Fromkin, Victoria et al (2003). An Introduction to Language. 

Clyne, Michael (1995). The German Language in a Changing Europe. 

Durrell, Martin (1992). Using German. 

Horan, Geraldine, Langer, Nils & Watts, Sheila (eds) (2009). Landmarks in the History of the German Language. 

Jones, Mari and Ishtla Singh (2005). Exploring Language Change. 

Thomas, Jenny (1995). Meaning in Interaction. 

Johnson, Sally and Natalie Braber (2008). Exploring the German Language. 

Holmes, Janet (2008). Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 

Stevenson, Patrick (1997). The German-speaking World. 


Assessment Strategy

As this is an introductory module, a significant proportion of the contact time will be devoted to presenting, explaining and discussing basic concepts, ideas and methods of analysis. However, you will be expected to be actively engaged in applying this new knowledge to the analysis of material throughout the course. To encourage you to think critically about how language is produced and interpreted in real texts and interactions, you will be expected to collect your own material for analysis and to work on data collection and analysis both individually and in pairs or small teams. Your ability to collect and analyse data will be assessed in the form of an empirical assignment to be conducted and completed during the course (assessed in an oral presentation), and knowledge and understanding of ideas and concepts will be assessed in the form of a take-away examination at the end of the course. You will gain informal (i.e. non-assessed) feedback and guidance throughout the module in the form of discussion of your seminar presentations with the tutors before and after the relevant seminar, guidance on preparation of your assessed oral presentation and advice on preparation for the take-away exam.


MethodPercentage contribution
Presentation 30%
Take-away paper 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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