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On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Comparative Strategies for Managing Linguistics Repertoires: Examining situational code choice among adolescent speakers in a micro-community in Austria Add Dissertation
Author: Desiree Baron Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Michigan, Germanic Languages and Literatures
Completed in: 1999
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): German
Director(s): Robert Kyes
James Milroy

Abstract: Geographically diverse approaches to the Dialect-Standard continuum in German raise the issue of how speakers manage these repertoires. Sociolinguistic precedents indicate that factors such as age, social status, gender, network ties, and education are reflected in linguistic choices; by examining a small, relatively homogeneous group, this study focuses on the impact of just a few of these factors. The role of educational institutions in propagating Standard coupled with social and linguistic development in adolescence suggested study of a school class. Fifteen students at the Bundeshandelsakademie Lustenau, located in the German-Austrian-Swiss Dreildndereck in Vorarlberg, Austria, participated in this peer-group study of situational code-choice.

Data from two interviews are set against the backdrop of ethnographic observations and recordings of these students (1990-1993). Formal individual interviews were expected to yield the greatest proportion of Standard. Subsequent peer-pair interviews were expected to yield a lower proportion of Standard use due to peer presence and greater familiarity with the interviewer. Standardness/Dialectness were determined on the basis of seven phonological features selected for their frequency, distinguishability, and salience. Aggregate results clearly showed a higher proportion of Standard features in the first interviews than in the second. Aggregate results show females using more Dialect features than males in both interview types. This finding does not follow expectations, based on the literature, of female preference for Standard, and goes against the usage pattern observed among adults in the community. Aspirations and the corresponding (lack of) need for active Standard language use in the future appear to coincide largely with (future) gender roles and may account for these unusual results. The increased use of Dialect in formal situations also conforms to an ideological shift that attributes greater value to Dialects in Europe generally and in the German-speaking area specifically; the females may be leading this trend (as is often the case) in their community. Hypotheses about early adopters and innovators raise difficulties, which are fully discussed.