Standardization in practice? Individual norm adaptation in Luxembourgish online news comments
2022-04-12, 15:30–16:00 (Europe/Vienna), Room 5

Luxembourgish as a language is particular in some regards: Its development from a Moselle-Franconian dialect into the national language of Luxembourg is fairly recent (recognized by law in 1984). Its domain expansion from a mostly spoken variety to a written language has taken place in the last 20 years, largely fostered by digital media. Additionally, its language-political Ausbau from a medium of informal communication to an institutionalized standard language is still ongoing. Many Luxembourgers do write texts in Luxembourgish on a regular basis, though, be it private text messages or public announcements, and this development is reflected in political action to consolidate the language's societal embedding, e.g., by reforming and promoting orthography.

Despite this remarkable dynamics, rule knowledge of correct orthography is still sparse in the population. One reason for this is the lack of anchoring of Luxembourgish in school curricula. As a consequence, the written Luxembourgish of most writers shows a broad range of variation beyond the official rules. At the same time, a growing norm awareness and the desire for a correct command of the orthography is visible in public discourse. The discrepancy between a non-regulated writing practice, an emerging norm awareness, and the politically promoted institutionalization of Luxembourgish offers an ideal starting point for the investigation of standardization processes in practice.

For our study, we use a corpus of 584.000 user comments from the largest news platform in Luxembourg ( published between 2008 and 2018. The aim of the study is to investigate changes in the individual norm adaptation over time, and to compare this dynamics with the concurrent societal revaluation of Luxembourgish as a language. To do so, we measure the error rate per text and author in the entire corpus with a pipeline for automatic text correction tailored specifically to Luxembourgish orthography (Purschke 2020). The tool compares (and corrects) every word in a given text against the official ruleset and computes correction statistics for every year and author in the corpus.

From the development of the global correction statistics between 2008 and 2018, we can draw conclusions about the overall norm orientation of Luxembourgish writers on this platform. In addition, through an author-based analysis, we find indications of different individual norm adaptation strategies. We also compare the results with usage statistics for the news platform and a freely available online correction tool for Luxembourgish ( Additionally, we contrast the data with results from a survey on language attitudes conducted in 2018 (Entringer et al. 2021).

The results show that the overall norm orientation in the user comments is relatively stable over time with only little convergence toward the norm. Nevertheless, we find different types of individual norm adaptation in the author analysis. The results suggest that the standardization of Luxembourgish is currently driven by its societal revaluation that fosters its structural development, e.g., through policy action. In the long term, however, we expect these developments to be reflected in individual writing practices.


Entringer, Nathalie, Peter Gilles, Sara Martin & Christoph Purschke. 2021. Schnëssen. Surveying language dynamics in Luxembourgish with a mobile research app. Linguistic Vanguard 7(s1). doi: 10.1515/lingvan-2019-0031.
Purschke, Christoph. 2020. Attitudes towards multilingualism in Luxembourg. A comparative analysis of online news comments and crowdsourced questionnaire data. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence 3:536086. doi: 10.3389/frai.2020.536086.

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