Cultural hierarchies and vital tones: Herder's making of a German muttersprache

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the anthology of Volkslieder collected and published by Johann Gottfried Herder, variously considered a cultural nationalist, a relativist, and a universalist. He is credited as having introduced the idea that a Muttersprache was an anthropological necessity, key to the identity of the Volk. I examine how he deployed hierarchies structuring cultural and linguistic diversity in order to refine a Muttersprache that could be transmitted to German poets. Per Herder, each Muttersprache had its own untranslatable, originary "vital tone," which he attempted to translate in his Volkslieder, a collection of poems from a diverse array of linguistic cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-565
Number of pages15
JournalGerman Studies Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by The German Studies Association.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural hierarchies and vital tones: Herder's making of a German muttersprache'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this