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Swiss German dialects spoken by second-generation immigrants: bilingual speech and dialect transformation


Schmid, Stephan (2020). Swiss German dialects spoken by second-generation immigrants: bilingual speech and dialect transformation. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

German-speaking Switzerland is characterised by a type of diglossia where the ‘low variety’ is used in almost all domains of everyday communication. For children of immigrant workers, a Swiss German dialect normally constitutes one of their two first languages. Nevertheless, one can observe two different scenarios how the dialect enters the repertoire of these multilingual subjects.
The first scenario entails the combined use of a heritage language (e.g. Italian) and a Swiss German dialect. Code-switching among peers of the same ethnic group serves a wide array of discourse and social functions, above all the expression of a composite bicultural identity, but the employed varieties do not differ structurally from those of monolingual speakers.
The second scenario, instead, gives rise to a structural transformation of the traditional dialects. For instance, an individual speaker may be perceived as originating from a particular region of Switzerland on the basis of his or her vowel qualities, whereas at the same time the voicing of (normally unvoiced) plosives makes him or her recognisable as a person with an immigrant background. Our analysis focuses on these linguistic transformations of dialects into ‘(multi-)ethnolectal’ dialects, whose social function seem to lie in the signalling of an allochthonous (‘non-Swiss’) identity.

Abstract

German-speaking Switzerland is characterised by a type of diglossia where the ‘low variety’ is used in almost all domains of everyday communication. For children of immigrant workers, a Swiss German dialect normally constitutes one of their two first languages. Nevertheless, one can observe two different scenarios how the dialect enters the repertoire of these multilingual subjects.
The first scenario entails the combined use of a heritage language (e.g. Italian) and a Swiss German dialect. Code-switching among peers of the same ethnic group serves a wide array of discourse and social functions, above all the expression of a composite bicultural identity, but the employed varieties do not differ structurally from those of monolingual speakers.
The second scenario, instead, gives rise to a structural transformation of the traditional dialects. For instance, an individual speaker may be perceived as originating from a particular region of Switzerland on the basis of his or her vowel qualities, whereas at the same time the voicing of (normally unvoiced) plosives makes him or her recognisable as a person with an immigrant background. Our analysis focuses on these linguistic transformations of dialects into ‘(multi-)ethnolectal’ dialects, whose social function seem to lie in the signalling of an allochthonous (‘non-Swiss’) identity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
410 Linguistics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Language:German
Date:5 March 2020
Deposited On:30 Mar 2020 07:28
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:57
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0143-4632
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2020.1730386
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100015_165798
  • : Project TitlePhonetic features of (multi-)ethnic urban vernaculars in German-speaking Switzerland
  • : Project Websitehttp://p3.snf.ch/project-165798

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