How to play with linguistic data

Schneider, Christa; Britain, David (27 September 2016). How to play with linguistic data (Unpublished). In: 4th international conference of applied linguistics, Language and people: Diversity and harmony. Vilnius. 27.-29.09.2016.

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How to play with linguistic data

Nortier and Dorleijn (2013: 243) define 'multi-ethnolect' as a linguistic style that is part of the linguistic practices of speakers with more than two distinct linguistic backgrounds, but has a clear lexical and grammatical base language - generally the dominant language of the society. In the past decade – especially in the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries – much variationist research has been conducted both on so-called urban multi-ethnolects and on discourse-pragmatic (as opposed to phonological or syntactic) variation – such as quotatives as in (1), tag questions as in (2) and general extenders as in (3):
(1): And I dished up an omelette, and he’s like ‘Is that all you’re giving me?’
(2): I’m really fed up with him, innit?
(3): I just popped into the supermarket to get some veg and stuff.
Investigations of what has come to be known as Kiezdeutsch (cf. Canoglu 2012; Wiese 2012) in Germany, however, have been relatively few and almost entirely qualitative, and there has been little research on multi-ethnolects in Switzerland. Furthermore, although there have been some qualitative analyses of discourse-pragmatic features in the German-speaking area of Switzerland, the lack of quantitative variationist analyses means that we do not understand well the structural linguistic contexts which help determine the choice of discourse-pragmatic variants and which help us track the gradual spread of new variants through the language.
A student workshop, taking place in the upcoming Spring term 2016, sets out to explore discourse-pragmatic variation in multicultural neighbourhoods of Bern, the Swiss capital. The workshop will involve sessions on the principles of variationist dialectological methods, fieldwork strategies and discourse-pragmatic variation, and the students will be trained how to extract, analyse, and statistically process examples of relevant linguistic features from a self-collected corpus of spoken data.
Given the centrality of fieldwork and data analysis in research on language variation, we outline what the students discovered and assess the extent to which such workshops can succeed in raising students’ awareness about present-day dialect diversity, engaging them in research on contemporary language variation and change, and equipping them with the necessary analytical skills to do so.

Canoglu, Hatice Deniz (2012): Kanak Sprak versus Kiezdeutsch – Sprachverfall oder sprachlicher Spezialfall? Eine ethnolinguistische Untersuchung. Taucha bei Leipzig: Frank & Timme GmbH

Nortier, Jacomine and Dorleijn, Margreet (2013): "Multi-ethnolects: Kebabnorsk, Perkerdansk, Verlan, Kanakensprache, Straattaal, etc.". In: Bakker, Peter and Matras, Yaron (eds.): Contact languages: a comprehensive guide. Boston, De Gruyter Mouton: 229-272.

Wiese, Heike (2012). Kiezdeutsch. München: Verlag C.H. Beck.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Digital Humanities
06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Humanities (GSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Schneider, Christa and Britain, David


400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
400 Language > 430 German & related languages




Christa Schneider

Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2021 12:00

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50




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