Language Reform through Translation. The »Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft« and its Policy in the First Half of the 17th Century
The German language did not develop in a locked container or closet but was shaped through multifarious influence from other European languages. At the beginning of the seventeenth Century especially literature from Italy, Spain and France was valuated, whereas the German language was considered as wooden and rough. The aim of the first German Language Society, the »Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft« (Fructiferous Society), which was established in 1617 in Weimar, was to develop German into a reputable literary language.
The article shows that the »Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft« translated mostly Italian, Spanish and French literature: poetry, drama as well as prose. The obsession with translation from highly prestigious European languages into German was based on two assumptions: 1. The translation would prove that the German language is able to absorb literature with a high literary standard and 2. Through the process of translation the German language itself would be improved. The argument of the article is that through translations from different European languages the German language was considerably reformed.
Kurz-Bio: Ulrike Gleixner
Historikerin, Privatdozentin und Leiterin der Abteilung Forschungsplanung undForschungsprojekte an der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Forschungsschwerpunkte: Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit, Kulturgeschichte von Religion und Frömmigkeit, Europäische Expansion und christliche Mission, Bildungsgeschichte, Geschichte von Transfer- und Austauschprozessen, Geschlechtergeschichte.