- Slides: 41
German Linguistics Lecture 12: An Introduction to German Dialects Designed by Paul Joyce University of Portsmouth E-Mail: Paul. Joyce@port. ac. uk
What is a dialect? • A dialect (Greek: dialektos) is a variety of a language used by people from a particular geographic area. It can have sub-dialects. • A dialect is a complete system of verbal communication (oral or signed, but not necessarily written) with its own vocabulary and grammar. • A dialect consists therefore of more than just an accent.
What is a standard dialect? • A standard dialect is one that is supported by institutions. This may include government recognition. • For example, Standard British English, Standard American English, Southern English and Standard Indian English may all be said to be standard dialects of the English language. • A non-standard dialect is not the beneficiary of institutional support.
Dialects – or languages? • There are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects. • Language varieties are often called dialects rather than languages because they are not (or are not recognised as) literary languages… • … or because the speakers of the given dialect don’t have a state of their own • “Une langue, c’est un dialecte qui possède une armée, une marine et une aviation. ” (Lyautey)
Lëtzebuergesch = a language • Although the variety of German spoken by the 441, 000 inhabitants of Luxembourg is in essence a Moselle Franconian dialect, it is now deemed to be a language in its own right. • Many (South) Germans however find it far easier to understand than Swiss German dialects – which aren’t considered to be a separate language. • And most newspapers in Luxembourg are written in German – or French!
German dialects – Mundart, Platt? • Different words are used to describe dialects in German. • “die Mundart” is sometimes used to mean the spoken dialect of a small area. • “der Dialekt” is used to mean a group of Mundarten that share certain characteristics and cover a wider area. • “Platt” is the normal colloquial term for Low and Middle German varieties.
Large number of German dialects • German is the mother tongue of 94 million people in Germany, Austria & Liechtenstein. • 63. 7% of Switzerland’s 7. 1 million inhabitants speak German as their first language. • It is an official language in Belgium and South Tyrol (Italy) • German is a pluricentric language, having several national varieties. • It therefore has a large number of often very different dialects.
German dialects are very different! • English dialects often differ from standard English mainly in terms of regional accents. • German dialects are much more sharply differentiated from standard German however • They differ in terms of vocabulary, grammar, phonology and pronunciation. • Speakers of traditional dialects face problems in learning standard German similar to those faced by speakers of foreign languages.
Language continuum • Language can vary according to the degree of formality demanded by the situation and the relationship between the language users. • While speakers may switch abruptly from one variety to another, it is increasingly common to make a less marked shift from one variety to another. • This tendency for convergence as opposed to switching implies that variation in German is best described as a relatively fluid continuum.
German language continuum • In Germany and Austria, there are relatively fluid boundaries between three different types of speech • 1) Standard German (Hochsprache) • 2) Colloquial German (Umgangssprache) • 3) Dialects • Many dialect words have become part of the colloquial usage and have in some cases become part of the written language.
Standard German • The narrowly prescribed Standard German is used in formal situations such as a court of law, or when one speaker is in a position of authority over the other in a speech act. • It is the type of German which children were expected to produce at school and which is described in grammar books and dictionaries. • It is very often the form of German that carries the highest prestige.
Late standardisation of German • Unlike English, the German language was standardised very late. • Not until Germany was unified in 1871 were steps taken to impose uniformity of spelling. • Standardised orthography only appeared for the German language in 1902! • Before then, different regional variants were used in school. • The rush to learn standard German in the 20 th Century affected the usage of dialects.
Colloquial German (Umgangssprache) • Colloquial German is midway on the continuum between standard German and dialect. • It ranges from forms close to the traditional dialect to forms which, in an English-speaking context, would be called informal standard. • It represents the everyday speech of a majority of German-speakers in the 20 th century (and not standard German!)
The rise of colloquial German • The rise of colloquial German has its origins in the learning of standard language by dialect speakers. • Such people will have felt the need to learn standard German in the 20 th Century, the spread of which was aided by the mass media. • BUT dialect speakers didn’t follow the standard use by the educated middle classes. In order to identify with their social group linguistically, they used relaxed forms of the standard.
20 th C. : German dialects under threat • The rise of both standard German and colloquial German put dialects under threat • It is dying out in formal usage, as standard German was adopted by schools & institutions • The media spreads the usage of standard German and (now) Umgangssprache • It is dying out particularly in the North • It is (literally!) dying out, as dialect usage is increasingly the preserve of the elderly
Dialects fight back • But this is not the complete picture! • As standardisation of German gathered pace, so too did the urge to preserve dialects • Although they may not now be heard as often, the study of German dialects began in earnest in the late 19 th Century • We call the study of dialects “dialectology” • The father of German dialectology is Georg Wenker (1852 -1911)
Wenkersätze • In 1876, Georg Wenker sent out a list of 42 formal German sentences to local teachers • He asked them to transcribe them into their local dialect and send them back • By 1895, Wenker had 48, 500 completed questionnaires from all over the German Reich • He used them to draw detailed maps of the usage of key aspects of the German language
Deutscher Sprachatlas • After Wenker’s death, Ferdinand Wrede drew 1, 646 individual maps, tracing the distribution of 339 words across Germany • A selection of these maps were published as the Deutscher Sprachatlas (DSA) • Between 1951 and 1973, 20 volumes of the Deutscher Wortatlas (DWA) appeared • Since then a number of regional language atlases have appeared
Isoglosses • Isoglosses are used to demarcate areas in which a variant of a linguistic feature appears • These lines can be compared to isobars on a weather map or to contour lines on an ordnance survey map • Isoglosses bear no necessary relationship with physical barriers such as a river or a mountain range, although they can often follow them • Isoglosses are very elusive “best-fit” lines
Isogloss bundles • Dialect boundaries occur where a substantial number of isoglosses overlap • The most famous example of such a “bundle” of isoglosses is the so-called Benrather Linie which separates Low German dialects from High German ones. • Dialect boundaries are rarely clearcut however • We therefore speak of focal areas (i. e. dialect centres) and transitional zones
Dialect map of Germany • The dialect map of the German-speaking countries can be split into three: • Low German (Niederdeutsch) spoken in the Lowlands in North Germany • Middle German (Mitteldeutsch) • Upper German (Oberdeutsch) spoken in south Germany, Austria and Switzerland • All three dialect areas contributed to the formation of modern standard German
Which dialects are the “purest”? • The dialects that are nearest to Standard German from a written standpoint are those in the south and the centre of the country • This is because the standardisation of German was hugely influenced by Martin Luther • For his translation of the Bible, he took the chancery language of Meißen as his basis • He chose a central dialect “dass mich beide Ober- und Niederländer verstehen mögen”
Pronunciation = North Germany! • But the pronunciation of German in Meißen (in Saxony!) was felt to be substandard • Instead the pronunciation in North Germany (esp. Braunschweig, Hannover) was purer • This is in part because, as Low Germans, they had to learn the developing standard as a new language that was very different to their own • Modern “standard” German is thus the written language of the South & Middle with the pronunciation of North Germany.
1970 s – “Die Dialektwelle” • In the 1970 s, dialects enjoyed a new wave of popularity (Dialektwelle), particularly among authors and the middle-class • As the Green movement grew, dialects were seen as representing local traditions and expressing regional identity • Dialects were valued as a “Sprache der Nähe” • There were seen as a language of human closeness underpinning a friendly community
New dialect presence in the media • German dialects are more present in the media than ever before • TV and radio: “Talk op Platt” • Dialect poetry and stories published • Astérix and Le Petit Prince translated into German dialects so that children can learn • Musically, the Dialektrock phenomenon proved popular, esp. in S. Germany & Austria
Dialect prestige – hot or not? • Some dialects are more loved than others • In a 1998 survey, the most popular dialect was Bairisch – 37% liked hearing it • N. German Plattdeutsch was next with 32% • The Allensbach survey concluded that dialects were gaining a more positive image, having lost “viel von ihrem Image von provinzieller Enge und Unbildung” • Only 12% of people never used their dialect
Bairisch macht sexy • In 2003, a Playboy (!) survey found that “der erotischste Dialekt Deutschlands” was also Bairisch (29%) • Berlinisch was second with 23% • Rheinisch followed with 22% • Schwäbisch was fourth with 18% sexiness
Unpopular dialects: Saxon • The 1998 Allensbach survey also concluded that Sächsisch was by far the most unpopular dialect – 50% of Germans polled disliked it! • This is in part because the unpopular GDR leader Walter Ulbricht spoke with a strong Saxon accent, but even 19 -29 year olds dislike the dialect very strongly • The second most unpopular dialect was Berlinisch (24%), then Bairisch (19%)
Swiss German – the huge exception • Swiss German bucks the trend of dialect usage gradually dying out • There has been a huge increase in the usage of Swiss German dialects in the last 20 years • At least 95% of Swiss Germans speak dialect • Anyone wishing to become a naturalised Swiss citizen in Zurich must show that they can speak the local dialect “in angemessener Weise”
Why is Swiss German so popular? • This dates back in part to the 1930 s, when Germany represented a threatening “draußen” • Speaking Swiss German helped protect Swiss integrity as a “sprachlicher Heimatschutz” • Since 1960 s, dialect represent democratic and anti-authoritarian values • Swiss German dialects are now viewed as “die Muttersprache der Schweiz” – “persönlich, frei, locker, einfach, sympathisch, lustig”
Swiss German – purely spoken form • Swiss German has also profited from the rise of written forms of communication • It is the spoken language of all social classes in industrial cities and in the countryside. • It is rarely, if ever, written down • Swiss Standard German (SSG) is instead the language of writing and formal speech • This is why SSG is viewed as a “Schulsprache” – “steif, kompliziert, wenig emotional”
Swiss German – medial diglossia • Unlike German and Austrian dialects, there is no colloquial German in Switzerland • Instead speakers switch between two radically different forms of the language – written (SSG) and spoken (Schwyzerdütsch dialects) • We define diglossia as the usage in one speech community of two varieties of the same language with complementary functions • Medial diglossia = diglossia based on medium
Swiss German: context-based choice • University lectures are normally held in Standard German, but small discussions are held in dialect • Standard German is used in the national parliament, but cantonal and city politicians very often use dialect • In private conversation, standard German may be used in the presence of non-dialect speakers, but even highly educated Swiss find themselves slipping into dialect. In practice most newcomers learn to speak the dialect.
Swiss German – TV and radio • Since 1983, dialect is increasingly heard on the radio due to the new private stations • Dialect is conquering formal news programmes • Interviews between a Swiss journalist and politicians on news broadcast “ 10 vor 10” will be held in dialect even if they are talking about something as serious as the Iraq war. • When the programme is shown later in Germany & Austria, it has to be subtitled!
How are German dialects different? • All German dialects have their own vocabulary (lexis), pronunciation and morphology (vowel and consonant differences) • German dialects also tend to: • Avoid the genitive case • Avoid the preterite (esp. South Germany) • Omit unstressed vowels in middle (syncopation) or end (apocopation) of words • Have simpler verb endings (esp. North & SW)
Swiss German: how is it different? • Helveticisms – words that are exclusive to Swiss German or have a different meaning • Number of French loan words – der Autocar (Bus), der Jupe (Kleid), das Velo (Rad), Salü! • “ch” and “k” sounds always pronounced as harsh /x/ phoneme – Kchameel (Kamel) • Vowel rounding – nöd (nicht), öppis (etwas) • Diminutive “-li” – Chätzli (kitten) • Odd plurals – Tääg (Tage), Hööchene (Höhen)
Huge contraction of verbs • Many Swiss German verbs look very different to their standard German equivalents • haa (= haben); ghaa (= gehabt) • sy (= sein); gsy, gsi (= gewesen) • gëë (= geben); gëë (= gegeben) • choo (= kommen); choo (= gekommen) • gsee (= sehen); gsee (= gesehen) • laa (= lassen); glaa (= gelassen)
Berlinisch - characteristics • Originally a Low German dialect, Berlinisch is now classed as a Middle German dialect • A city dialect, it has lexical influences from: • 1) Slavic – “Berlin”, Lanke (Sumpf); dalli • 2) Yiddish – meschugge (verrückt); mies • 3) French – Feez (fête); Budike (boutique) • 4) Low German – doof; kieken; Jöre (Kind) • 5) Latin – Penne (Schule)
Berlinisch - Akkudativ • Berlinisch is famous for alternating the accusative and dative cases = the Akkudativ • “Ick liebe dir, ich liebe dich wie ‘t richtig is, det weeß ick nich un is mich ooch Pomade Ick lieb’ dir nich im dritten Fall Ick lieb’ dir nich im vierten Fall Ick liebe dir uff jeden Fall”
Berlinisch – consonants • • g j: Jeld (Geld), jleich (gleich) liejen (liegen) ch k: icke (ich), Schnäpperken, Männeken s t: det (das), wat (was), anderet (anderes) pf p: Kopp (Kopf), Appel (Apfel) lt ll: olle (alte) Lack of final “t”: is (ist), jib’s (gibt es) Disappearance of “d”: jeworn (geworden), ick wer (ich werde), Meechen (Mädchen)
Berlinisch - vowels • • • ei ee: nee (nein), beede (beide), kleen ö e, ee: scheen (schön), Leffel (Löffel) ü i: Stick (Stück), miede (müde) au oo: ooch (auch), Boom, Ooren (Augen) au u: uff (auf), Uffjabe (Aufgabe) Shortening of vowels before doubling of consonants: ville (viel), Jlass (Glas), Hoff (Hof), jenuch (genug) • Adding of –e: Bette, alleene, Paule, Fritze