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Academic Paper

Title: The diffusion of /l/-vocalization in Swiss German
Author: Adrian Leemann
Author: Marie-José Kolly
Institution: Universität Zürich
Author: Iwar Werlen
Institution: University of Bern, Switzerland
Author: David Britain
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Berne
Author: Dieter Studer-Joho
Institution: Universität Zürich
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: German
Abstract: Several western Swiss German dialects roughly grouped around the nation's capital Bern show /l/ > [u] vocalization in various contexts. The spatial boundaries of /l/-vocalization in Swiss German are suspected to have been expanding since being described in the Linguistic Atlas of German-Speaking Switzerland in the middle of the 20th century. The present study assesses the overall expansion of /l/-vocalization by means of a rapid anonymous survey in 20 urban regional centers situated just beyond the traditional boundaries of /l/-vocalization highlighted by the Atlas. Results show that the expansion of /l/-vocalization mainly progresses in southeasterly, southerly, and westerly directions, but with much less success to the north and northwest, where the equally influential dialectal areas of Basel and Zürich seem to exert opposing influences. Further analysis of the data indicates that somewhat differing constraint hierarchies are at work in the different places to which vocalization has diffused.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 26, Issue 2.

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