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Open Access Conservative and innovative dialect areas

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Abstract

The present paper focuses on conservative and innovative (transitional) dialect areas and the questions of 1) how such areas can be methodologically visualized and 2) how the outcomes can be interpreted.

In the first part of this paper a geostatistical method of representing phonological features in space will be introduced: interpolation. This method is not entirely new to dialectology; it has been quite neglected, though, in comparison to other methods of mapping, such as the isogloss or dot symbol method that was mainly used in traditional dialect atlases. The interpolation method will be applied to a large corpus of spontaneous speech data from rural dialects spoken in southwest Germany. Methodological steps in data processing will be described, resulting in a data set that can be used as input for statistical analysis and the visual depiction of variation in space as interpolated grid plots.

In the second part results will be discussed. The major outcome consists of an aggregate interpolation plot that includes variables from fifteen different etymological sound classes. These sound classes can be used for demonstrating the distribution of receding phonological variables in space. The interpolation shows two conservative areas where receding forms are still widespread. They lie within the centers of the two major dialect groups of southwest Germany: Alemannic and Swabian. The conservative areas are separated by a broad transitional zone characterized by intense variation between receding and innovative variants. It will be argued that this transitional zone is not due to the horizontal spread of the dialects into each other’s areas alone. Rather, variation is triggered by vertical standard influence that supports any dialect form to spread out horizontally as long as it is phonologically identical or similar to the standard form.
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Keywords: conservative; convergence; dialect areas; dialect change; phonological change; phonology; variation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Christian Schwarz, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of the University of Münster is gratefully acknowledged., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 12 December 2014

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  • Taal en Tongval is een wetenschappelijk tijdschrift over taalvariatie in Nederland en Vlaanderen, waarin ook aandacht wordt geschonken aan naburige taalgebieden en aan het Nederlands verwante talen. Alle vormen van variatie kunnen worden besproken zoals geografische, sociale, etnische, stilistische en diachrone variatie. Verder mogen daarbij ook alle aspecten van de menselijke taal aan de orde komen. Het blad staat zowel open voor empirisch werk als voor studies die een verbinding leggen tussen taalvariatie en theoretische taalkunde.

    Taal en Tongval publiceert bijdragen in het Nederlands, Engels, en Duits. In bepaalde gevallen kunnen ook artikelen in andere talen in overweging genomen worden, zoals Fries, Afrikaans en Frans.

    Taal en Tongval. Language Variation in the Low Countries is a journal devoted to the scientific study of language variation in the Netherlands and Flanders, in neighbouring areas and in languages related to Dutch. All types of variation are covered, including but not restricted to geographical, social, ethnic, stylistic and diachronic variation. Articles may deal with all aspects of human language. The journal welcomes both empirical work as studies linking language variation to developments in theoretical linguistics.

    Taal en Tongval welcomes contributions in Dutch, English and German. In certain cases we also consider articles in other languages, including Frisian, Afrikaans, and French.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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