Accepted Paper:

Significance and change of perceptional dialect areas in south-west Germany  


Nina Kim Leonhardt (University of Tuebingen)

Paper short abstract:

This PhD thesis forms part of an interdisciplinary research project ( It seeks to describe and compare regional speech concepts and perceptions of dialect areas via linguistic and ethnographical analysis of empirical data gathered in small Swabian and Franconian towns.

Paper long abstract:

Through interviews, surveys and mental dialect maps, different preserving factors are exposed which have an impact on institutionalisation processes in orality and which can be compared to the processes of institutionalisation of standard German (scripturality, mediality, codification).

It is also shown that regional linguisticality is not just an experience of given dialect areas but, in the same way, includes constructions of regionality (environmental, historical, cultural) and constructions of social belonging (age, origin). In this way, it describes dialectality as an autopoietic and circulating phenomenon which also includes concepts of modern rurality.

Through three ethnographic case studies in the fieldwork area, it is shown that with regard to individual perceptions of dialect areas, there are not only differences between regions and generations. There are also very interesting intragenerational varieties: it has been discovered that factors like regional integration through friends and a job in the vicinity, as well as aspirations to establish a future in the hometown, influence dialect-supporting attitudes and dialect performances more significantly than classical sociodemografic factors like age and origin.

This result supports one of the starting hypotheses: the assumption that territorial self-positioning always relates to social self-positioning. A comparison of the data also indicates that awareness of spoken dialect differs regionally: People who live near the Swabian-Franconian dialect border between Ellwangen and Crailsheim have a much higher awareness of their own dialects compared to people who live in the Swabian-Franconian transition area near Heilbronn and to people who live in the homogeneously Swabian area near Stuttgart.

Panel P31
Empirical research of modern rurality: towards multilocality and interdisciplinarity