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Faculty report 2015
IPSE Factsheet
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Mission statement

Institute of Luxemburgish Linguistics and Literatures at the University of Luxembourg

Mission statement

The research interests of the members of the department of Luxembourgish Language and Literature encompass:

  • The structure and variation of Luxembourgish
  • The relationship between language and society in Luxembourg and the Greater Region
  • The characteristics and development of Luxembourgish literature in its multi-lingual and –cultural context
  • The study of Luxembourgish literature in light of literary and aesthetic theories

Linguists and literary scholars approach their research subjects both from a monolingual and a contrastive/comparative angle and actively contribute to international academic debates in a wide range of fields of study, such as:

  • Grammar
  • Language contact
  • Variational linguistics
  • Multilingualism
  • Interculturality
  • Literary and cultural studies
  • Literary theory

Research findings are discussed, published and taught both on a national and international level and are frequently made accessible to a general audience (http://infolux.uni.lu).

Students are encouraged to develop a confident understanding of ongoing research projects from the beginning of their studies and to actively contribute to the department’s foundational and applied research through their dissertations.

“Luxembourgish” is the language that developed out of the West-Moselle-Franconian dialect continuum. As a consequence of the political and social developments of the mid-nineteenth century, the language emancipated itself from these roots and attained structural and sociolinguistic independence. Although Luxembourgish is a small language, it is neither a minority language nor a threatened language. Along with the administrative languages German and French, Luxembourgish is integrated within a complex trilingual network that the term “triglossia” (or “polyglossia,” if we consider contact languages, such as Portuguese, Italian and English) does not cover adequately.

Literary studies at the University of Luxembourg focus on the country’s literary production from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century up to the present day. The late appearance of Luxembourgish literature, as well as its frequently French or German frame of reference, have led to complex discussions about its cultural and literary affiliation, which, since the 1980s, have moved in radically different directions: while in the past the trilingual character of Luxembourgish literature caused debates about national and cultural belonging, the latter have now been replaced by explorations of its inter- and trans-cultural processes and characteristics. Current scholarship in Luxembourgish literary studies investigates the relationships between the literatures in the different languages and reflects on, and interrogates, the categorisation of this national literature as a regional literature and/or as a “small” European literature.

Structure and Variation of Luxembourgish

We examine Luxembourgish both in its own right and in contrast to other European languages. Our long-term goal is to establish the foundations for an empirically solid and theoretical description of the system and usage of Luxembourgish (incorporating for example: phonetics/phonology, orthography, morphology, syntax, lexis, phraseology and onomastics). We investigate the regional, medial, social and functional network of circumstances of Luxembourgish, as well as the dynamics of its linguistic history (such as: the development of the language system and language standardisation).

The Relationship between Language and Society in Luxembourg

Research in sociolinguistics focuses on questions of language use, language politics, language values and language ideologies. Based on qualitative and quantitative research methods, we investigate the language behaviour of different social groups in order to gain insight into the functional realms of Luxembourgish in its multilingual context (i.e. at the workplace, in school, in the mass media, on Facebook), but also to reconstruct the discourse of ‘legitimate language[s]’ (following Bourdieu). In this context, we examine code-switching and code-mixing in specific language contact situations. Another research interest is the study of literacy, which explores language choice for reading and writing in particular areas of life (such as school, home, work, etc.) and seeks to explain the motivations for the respective choices.

Characteristics and Development of Luxembourgish Literature

While Luxembourgish literature arose in the context of multiple languages and cultures, it can only be partially characterised by its multilingual nature and the related processes of cultural affiliation. The (national) literary discourse reflects on the constitution of Luxembourgish literature and the phases of its development, as well as the dialectic between self and other. The question whether to speak of “a literature in three languages” or to categorically differentiate between three distinct literatures remains ubiquitous in Luxembourgish literary studies and is frequently extended to encompass the arising literatures in English, Italian and Portuguese.

Research in literary history focuses on questions relating to the linguistic and cultural position of Luxembourgish literature and considers its multilingual specificity based on the contemporary discourse of inter- and transculturality.

Literary and Aesthetic Theory

Our research also traces the influence of international aesthetic currents and generic evolutions on Luxembourg’s literary production. In order to develop innovative methodological strategies, we conduct literary analyses based on international research trends and timely theoretical discourse. We approach Luxembourgish literature from a comparative, supra-discursive and interdisciplinary angle, conducting projects on specific themes, narratology, aesthetics and poetics.

Courses

Our two programmes of study—the Master in ‘Languages, Cultures and Media—Luxembourg Studies’ (since 2009) and the training course ‘Luxembourgish Language and Culture’ (2007)—encourage the critical reflection on Luxembourg’s language situation in preparation for a professional world that grows in complexity.

The team, July 2011