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Project C1 - Dynamics and stability of regiolect boundaries

PI: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Erich Schmidt, Dr. Brigitte Ganswindt
Ph.D.-student: Milena Gropp

Research context

“Regiolect“(or “colloquial language”) refers to "standard deviating full varieties with a large regional distribution" (Schmidt & Herrgen, 2011). German regiolects date back to the "Regional High German" of the 18th and 19th centuries (Ganswindt, 2017, 2019a, 2019b). They emerged as phonological-prosodic adaptations of the large-regional dialect groups to the written language and were the only forms of High German spoken before 1900. Nowadays, the former prestige varieties that continue as modern regiolects dominate everyday communication in Germany. Nevertheless, the systematic study of regiolect borders has only just begun (Purschke, 2011), research into their dynamics has only just begun (Elmentaler & Rosenberg, 2015b; Rocholl, 2015). The respective cognitive representations have not yet been explored. A central research area here is: for the dynamics of regiolect borders and their relevance for action (Lameli, 2019), their perceptibility is crucial. This leads to the following questions: What role do which basic linguistic categories play in the perception of regiolect borders? Is the linguistic status of the units involved decisive (segmental phoneme or prosodeme)? Is it the sheer quantity of differing phonetic features or the degree of distributional divergence? Is it the salience (and pertinence) of individual features that matters or their frequency?

"Linguistic structure, variational spectrum and dynamics" of the linguistic areas of German have currently been compiled as the central part of the International Handbook of Language Variation (Vol. 4 German) (Herrgen & Schmidt, 2019), which provides an ideal introduction to the research topic. Also known is the extent of phonetic-phonological differences between the dialect associations on which modern regiolects are based (Lameli, 2013), as well as characteristic phonetic-phonological features of the "Regional High German", the predecessor of the regiolect (Ganswindt, 2017, 2019a, 2019b). Through variable analyses and mapping, the most important features of the regiolects are accessible (Kehrein, 2015; Kleiner, 2015). The salience of the 40 most salient regiolect features for Upper, Middle and Lower German was determined in Kiesewalter (2019). Studies in the field of perceptual dialectology, that examined regiolect borders, are so far only present for the Mosel Franconian-Rhenish Franconian and the Upper Saxon-Thuringian regional language borders (Purschke, 2011). It is unclear why, contrary to the speakers' estimation and the similarity of phonetic features on this side and on the other side of the assumed regiolect borders, some of these are highly relevant in terms of linguistic dynamics, while others are not detectable with objective linguistic methods.

Current dissertation project

Aims

The thesis aims to contribute to the investigation of the perceptual relevance of regiolect borders (cf. Purschke, 2011; Kleene 2020). Therefore, two inner borders of German will be empirically investigated in order to better understand the macrodynamics of regional languages. The selection of the borders to be studied is based on the dialect classification according to Lameli (2013). The borders of the three major dialect groups - Low German, Middle German and Upper German - will be examined for their perceptual relevance. I.e. the first study will deal with the regiolect borders between Low German and Middle German, the second study will focus on the regiolect borders between Middle German and Upper German.

Methods

In order to obtain comparable spontaneous language material for the empirical study of regional language borders, so-called "weather interviews" are conducted in the areas under investigation (cf. Purschke, 2011: 162). In this type of survey, the subjects are asked questions about climate and weather - under the guise of a radio interview. In the weather interview, the interviewer acts as a stranger with deliberate use of Standard German noticeable recording equipment, which is intended to create a formal interview situation that forces the informants to orient themselves strongly to the standard way of speaking. „[A]llerdings erreichen die Sprecher die Zielnorm in der Regel aufgrund ihrer regional geprägten Registerkompetenz nicht.“ (Purschke, 2011: 162). Thus, regionally coloured speech recordings as close to the standard as possible can be collected below the standard-substandard boundary, which are suitable for testing both vertical and horizontal borders in the listening test.

The questionnaire combines various methods, including the "draw-a-map" task and perception tests. In the "Draw-a-map" task, the respondents are presented with a map of a region (e.g. parts of a federal state) on which they are asked to draw familiar dialect areas. This is intended to provide insights into the subjective conceptualisation of the area under investigation. The language recordings obtained through the weather interviews are to be judged in the questionnaire by the test persons with regard to their dialectality and regionality. The listener judgements will be collected in two steps: First, the participants are to rate the dialectality of the utterances on a seven-point rating scale with the extreme poles "Standard German" and "deepest dialect" (subjective distance to the standard language = vertical dimension). In the second part, the audio sample is to be regionally located (horizontal dimension). For this purpose, the respondents are offered a number of choices.

Preliminary work

In Schmidt & Herrgen (2011), an attempt was made to design the research programme for the research field of "modern regional languages" and to conceptualise one of the central components for language dynamics theory in the form of synchronisation theory. Within the framework of this research programme, two fundamental studies on the perceptual linguistics of variety borders and on the salience of regional language features have emerged (Kiesewalter, 2019; Purschke, 2011). Historical borders of the regiolect and the phonetic-phonological features of the preceding variety have been elaborated in the studies of Ganswindt (2017, 2019a, 2019b) on “Regional High German”. In a pilot study, the North Bavarian-East Franconian dialect border in Upper German was investigated, testing the methodology used in the dissertation C1 (cf. Gropp, 2020, in press).

Relation to other projects

A1, A2, A3, C2

Literature

Elmentaler, Michael & Peter Rosenberg (2015b): Regionalsprachlichkeit und Sprachvariation. In: Elmentaler, Michael/Markus Hundt/Jürgen Erich Schmidt (Hg.), Deutsche Dialekte. Konzepte, Probleme, Handlungsfelder. Akten des 4. Kongresses der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Dialektologie des Deutschen (IGDD) in Kiel, 435–451. Steiner.

Ganswindt, Brigitte (2017): Landschaftliches Hochdeutsch. Rekonstruktion der oralen Prestigevarietät im ausgehenden 19. Jahrhundert. Steiner (Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik. Beihefte. 168).

Ganswindt, Brigitte (2019a): Historische Mündlichkeit. Statistische Methoden in der historischen Regionalsprachenforschung. Linguistik online, 99(6), 35–49.

Ganswindt, Brigitte (2019b): Landschaftliches Hochdeutsch vom 17. bis 19. Jahrhundert. In: Herrgen, Joachim/Jürgen Erich Schmidt (Hg.), Sprache und Raum. Ein internationales Handbuch der Sprachvariation. Band 4: Deutsch. Unter Mitarbeit von Hanna Fischer und Brigitte Ganswindt. De Gruyter Mouton (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. 30.4), 101–120.

Herrgen, Joachim/Jürgen Erich Schmidt (2019): Sprache und Raum. Ein internationales Handbuch der Sprachvariation Band 4: Deutsch. Unter Mitarbeit von Hanna Fischer und Brigitte Ganswindt. De Gruyter Mouton (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. 30.4).

Gropp, Milena (2020): Regionalsprachliche Grenzen im Hörerurteil. Eine Perzeptionsstudie zum ostfränkisch-nordbairischen Übergangsgebiet. Unveröffentlichte Masterarbeit, Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Gropp, Milena (in press): Regionalsprachliche Grenzen im Hörerurteil. Eine Perzeptionsstudie zum ostfränkisch-nordbairischen Übergangsgebiet. Linguistik Online.

Kehrein, Roland (2015): Deutsche Regionalakzente – ihre Entstehung, Form und mögliche Weiterentwicklung. In: Elmentaler, Michael/Markus Hundt/Jürgen Erich Schmidt (Hg.), Deutsche Dialekte. Konzepte, Probleme, Handlungsfelder. Akten des 4. Kongresses der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Dialektologie des Deutschen (IGDD), 453–477. Steiner.

Kiesewalter, Carolin (2019): Zur subjektiven Dialektalität regionaler Aussprachemerkmale des Deutschen. Steiner.

Kleene, Andrea (2020): Attitudinal-perzeptive Variationslinguistik im bairischen Sprachraum. Horizontale und vertikale Grenzen aus der Hörerperspektive. Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache.

Kleiner, Stefan (2015): „Deutsch heute“ und der Atlas zur Aussprache des deutschen Gebrauchsstandards. In Kehrein, Roland/Alfred Lameli/Stefan Rabanus (Hg.), Regionale Variation des Deutschen, 489–518. De Gruyter.

Lameli, Alfred (2013): Strukturen im Sprachraum. Analysen zur arealtypologischen Komplexität der Dialekte in Deutschland. De Gruyter.

Lameli, Alfred (2019): Sprachraum, Gemeinschaft, Handeln. In Herrgen, Joachim/Jürgen Erich Schmidt (Hg.), Sprache und Raum. Ein internationales Handbuch der Sprachvariation Band 4: Deutsch. Unter Mitarbeit von Hanna Fischer und Brigitte Ganswindt. De Gruyter Mouton (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. 30.4), 897– 914.

Rocholl, Josephine (2015): Ostmitteldeutsch – eine moderne Regionalsprache? Eine Untersuchung zu Konstanz und Wandel im thüringisch-obersächsischen Sprachraum. Georg Olms.

Schmidt, Jürgen Erich/Joachim Herrgen (2011): Sprachdynamik. Eine Einführung in die moderne Regionalsprachenforschung. Erich Schmidt Verlag (Grundlagen der Germanistik. 49).