The Frankfurt Debates on Language are a series of annual events with changing themes. They allow the German Academy for Language and Literature to respond to the great public interest in the German language and put current topics up for discussion.

“The Language of the Constitution” is the topic on 14 November, at 7pm at Evangelische Akademie in Frankfurt Admission free | Please register at

What exactly is the language of our Constitutional Law? What does “human dignity” or “Volk” mean? What does “family” mean in times of single parents, surrogate mothers or same-sex marriages?

Constitutional texts are drawn up by communities at historical turning points, defining key institutional decisions and laying down citizens’ rights and duties. Usually, they are adopted and proclaimed with solemnity. Ideally, they sound clear and decisive, and do not contain foreign words or presuppose any knowledge of the law. Citizens should be able to understand what is at stake. But is that really the case? How do social change and liguistic change affect the Constitution?

Constitutional language is just as controversial in the context of the European Union. A European Constitution is being developed against the background of globalization and the shift of sovereign rights to European institutions. Is there a European constitutional language that is based on common “values” and can go beyond national languages and the elements of historically developed legal cultures embedded in them?

These questions will be discussed in two panel sessions:
I: Should the people understand the Constitution?
Gabriele Britz | Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court
Wolfgang Klein | Linguist
Martin Mosebach | Writer and lawyer
Uwe Volkmann | Lawyer
Moderation: Michael Stolleis | Jurist

II: What language does the European Constitution speak?
Günter Frankenberg | Lawyer
Lukas Bärfuss | Author
Nicola Beer | Vice-President European Parliament
Michael Stolleis | Lawyer
Presented by Wolfgang Klein | Linguist

“The Language of the Constitution” is curated by Wolfgang Klein and Michael Stolleis.

The event is supported by the Polytechnic Foundation of Frankfurt am Main In cooperation with the Cultural Office of the City of Frankfurt am Main

Past events: 14 November 2019 “The Language of the Constitution” Frankfurt Debates on Language