Linguistic, social, and individual factors constraining variation in spoken Swiss Standard German

Bülow, Lars; Büchler, Andrin; Rawyler, Nicolai; Schneider, Christa; Britain, David (2021). Linguistic, social, and individual factors constraining variation in spoken Swiss Standard German. In: Werth, Alexander; Bülow, Lars; Pfenninger, Simone E.; Schiegg, Markus (eds.) Intra-individual Variation in Language. Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM]: Vol. 363 (pp. 127-174). Berlin/Boston: Mouton de Gruyter 10.1515/9783110743036-005

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This chapter explores linguistic, social, and individual factors constraining spoken Swiss Standard German. The empirical focus of this study is on the variables (k) and (ç), which are well-attested to vary both at the level of the Swiss German speech community as a whole and also at the level of individual speakers within the community. Our data are based on sociolinguistic interviews including informal conversations (comprehension-oriented) as well as reading and transla- tion tasks (norm-oriented) from 16 adults ranging in age from 19 to 40 who were born and work in the city of Biel in North-West Switzerland. Results show that level of education and gender explain most of the variation present in the data, despite these factors not affecting (k) and (ç) equally. Language internal constraints only play a minor role. However, no systematic stylistic variation was found regarding the communicative orientation of the different language production tasks.

Based on these findings, this chapter furthermore addresses theoretical and methodological questions regarding systematic and non-systematic variation within individuals. In particular with respect to the results found at the level of the individual, it needs to be questioned whether (social) factors determining variation based on group averages can be generalised to individuals’ behaviour. Hence, we argue in this chapter that variationist sociolinguists should be more careful when it comes to drawing inferences based on group-derived estimates only.

Keywords: Spoken Swiss Standard German, Variationist Sociolinguistics, Intra- individual Variation, Inter-individual Variation, Linguistic and Social Factors

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Digital Humanities
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages > German Linguistics
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Humanities (GSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Büchler, Andrin; Rawyler, Nicolai Timon; Schneider, Christa and Britain, David

Subjects:

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

ISBN:

9783110742855

Series:

Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM]

Publisher:

Mouton de Gruyter

Language:

English

Submitter:

Andrin Büchler

Date Deposited:

22 Sep 2021 14:48

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2021 03:08

Publisher DOI:

10.1515/9783110743036-005

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/159212

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/159212

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