Martin Luther: Vater Einer Allgemeinen Sprache? Martin Luther: Father of a Common Language?

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CONFERENCE: John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference

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Ewaldz, Annika; Woodis, Faculty Advisor, Adam
East Asian Languages and Societies; German Language and Literature; Slavic Languages and Societies
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Martin Luther is well known for his 95 Theses, in which he rejects the Catholic practice of selling indulgences; but it was his groundbreaking translation of the Bible into German that instigated the standardization of the German language. After his excommunication, Luther was in hiding in the Wartburg Castle, where he translated his Bible into a vernacular and cohesive form of the German language. Many different dialects were spoken throughout Germany at the time making communication between regions difficult. Luther’s translation soon became the most influential Bible in Germany and was disseminated quickly due to the recently invented printing press. By tracing the printings of Luther’s Bible and the spread of Lutheranism throughout Germany, one can see how Luther’s translation exerted a major influence on the dialects of specific regions in Germany, especially those of Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Strasbourg, and how Luther ultimately contributed to standardization of the German language.