Chapter Child-directed speech in catechisms for the religious education of children under the age of three in early modern Germany and the Dutch Republic
This article presents three early catechisms for the religious education of children under the age of three, printed in Germany and the Netherlands. Two of them were best- and long sellers on the book market, while one of them was a commercial failure. Catechisms were influential reading primers. The children’s catechisms written by Jacobus Borstius, Johann Cyriacus Höfer and Nikolaus von Zinzendorf contained questions for children who were too young to read the texts themselves. Therefore, these catechisms had to be performed in the form of interactive read-alouds. Höfer, Borstius, and Zinzendorf used child-directed speech in their catechisms: short and foreseeable answers and a basic vocabulary to facilitate the understanding and the pronunciation of words in the process of language acquisition and the deliberate introduction of new religious vocabulary. Whereas the catechisms of Borstius and Höfer reckoned with pedagogical laymen and chose standardized questions and answers, Zinzendorf proclaimed an ideal of Socratic intercourse, enthusiasm and aesthetic-poetic affirmation – an ideal that exceeded the capabilities of average teachers and parents.
Keywordsinfant catechisms, early childhood religious education, childdirected speech, religious pedagogy
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Publication date and placeamsterdam, 2022
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