University of Sheffield
Several new journals of the late 1870s (Englische studien, Anglia: Zeitschrift für englische Philologie and the Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie) gave the linguistics of the modern languages the means for their proponents to talk to each other in a scholarly forum as the modern languages established themselves as university disciplines. One of the key outlets for this ‘new philology’ was the slightly later arrival on the scene, Phonetische studien [Phonetic studies]. This was very much the preferred organ of the Reform Movement in language teaching (for more on the Reform Movement, see Howatt and Smith 2002). It also rapidly became the principal discourse forum for the wider community of predominantly younger scholars, working both within and outside universities, inspired by the opportunities for new forms of applied language work offered by the new science of phonetics (for more on this ‘discourse community’, see Linn 2008).
Phonetische studien (it did not adopt upper-case letters word-initially in nouns) first appeared in 1888 with the subtitle Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche und praktische phonetik mit besonderer rücksicht auf den unterricht in der aussprache [Journal of scientific and practical phonetics with particular emphasis on the teaching of pronunciation]. The title was a work in progress, as we shall see in due course, and its fluidity tells us much about the journal and the community it served. The style of the title was clearly calqued on that of the earlier journals, and it served to position the newcomer amongst them as a serious contribution to the philological literature. By the 1880s journals had come to “represent the most important single source of information for the scientific research community” (Meadows 1979: 1) and any self-respecting scholarly endeavour needed one to give it credibility as well as serving “to create and solidify a bonding sense of community for scholars who might otherwise have remained isolated individuals or small cadres” (Christie 1990: 17). The 1886 meeting of Scandinavian philologists in Stockholm, attended by Paul Passy (1859-1940) in the year in which he founded the Phonetic Teachers Association, had resulted in the establishment of the four key principles of language teaching reform (see Linn 2002). This, and the other philologists’ conferences which were by now a regular fixture in the annual calendar, must have been an invigorating and empowering experience for the phonetically minded language teaching reformers, and the new journal was a way of keeping the community together and focused. Regular reports on efforts to put reform measures into practice provided a source of encouragement to those who felt themselves to be lone voices in a chorus of traditional methods. However, those lone voices were joining forces rapidly to form a new chorus of reforming zeal. Writing in 1893, and looking back over the previous years, the German reform pioneer Wilhelm Viëtor (1850-1918) charts the dramatic development of this community of scholars and teachers dedicated to applying the insights of phonetics to language teaching reform. He notes that “this rather insignificant germ of reform literature has meanwhile grown to very considerable dimensions” (1893: 353) and that the community is coming together in significant numbers:
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