Numeral Gender in Bernese German

Schneider, Christa (7 August 2017). Numeral Gender in Bernese German (Unpublished). In: Methods in Dialectology XVI. Tokyo. 07.-11.08.2017.

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Numeral Gender in Bernese German

The atlas of German-speaking Switzerland (SDS) was published between 1962 and 1997, containing more than 1500 dialect maps (cf. Baumgartner et al. 1962-1997). Among other things, it contains data from 1944 on the greater area of Bern where mainly NORMs have been taken into account. Since then, these particular regional varieties have not been examined in its entirety anymore.
In my PhD project, I collect new data for Bern and its greater area according to selected variables already surveyed in the SDS, and compare them to the original data. My main focus is on language change and its underlying reason.
The data in the SDS show a trichotomy in numeral gender (feminine, masculine, neuter) for the greater area of Bern but only for the numeral zwöi (engl. two): e.g. zwe Manne (m.), zwo Froue (f.), zwöi Ching (n.) (engl. two men, two women, two children). This trichotomy origins in the Old-High-German period and is still documented in the 20th century in the Alemannic dialects of German-speaking Switzerland, but has been lost in return in the Standard German (cf. Christen et al. 2012).
My contemporary data show that only the oldest generation (60+) is able to produce the trichotomy spontaneously, whereas the youngest generation (16-35) is not even aware of the trichotomy anymore. Interestingly, the middle generation (35-60) has to be divided into three groups:
1. Speakers, who still produce the trichotomy spontaneously
2. Speakers, who are aware of the trichotomy but – generally – do not produce it
3. Speakers, who are not aware of the trichotomy anymore
The SDS clearly documents stability in this trichotomy, the contemporary data collection, however, shows a decline in variation and therefore evidences language change in progress.

Baumgartner Heinrich, Hotzenköcherle Rudolf (1962-2003). Sprachatlas der deutschen Schweiz. Bern, Basel: Francke Verlag

Christen Helen, Glaser Elvira und Friedli Matthias (2012). Kleiner Sprachatlas der deutschen Schweiz. Frauenfeld: Verlag Huber

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 > 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


400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 430 German & related languages




Christa Schneider

Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2021 11:35

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50




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