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«by Zebulon Aaron Pischnotte A dissertation submitted to the faculty of The University of Utah in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»

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A SOCIOLINGUISTIC STUDY OF BITBURGER PLATT GERMAN

by

Zebulon Aaron Pischnotte

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of

The University of Utah

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Linguistics

The University of Utah

May 2015

Copyright © Zebulon Aaron Pischnotte 2015

All Rights Reserved

Th e U n i v e r s i t y o f U t a h G r a d u a t e S c h o o l

STATEMENT OF DISSERTATION APPROVAL

The dissertation of Zebulon Aaron Pischnotte

has been approved by the following supervisory committee members:

Johanna Watzinger-Tharp Chair 10/29/2014 Date Approved Member 10/29/2014 Edward Rubin Date Approved Member 10/29/2014 Rachel Hayes-Harb Date Approved Member 10/30/2014 Joseph Salmons Date Approved Member 10/30/2014 Lyle Campbell Date Approved and by Edward Rubin Chair/Dean of the Department/College/School o f __________________ Linguistics and by David B. Kieda, Dean of The Graduate School.

ABSTRACT

Bitburger Platt, spoken in the Eifel region of western Germany, exhibits a merger of the Standard German (d) and (t) sounds, the reflexes of West Germanic *6 and *d, respectively. A chain shift yielded the modern Standard German variants. Biburger Platt, however, did not follow through with the first phase of this shift; rather, the two sounds were merged into [d] in the dialect (Veith, 1999). As an example, the Standard German phrase du tust ‘you do (cognate to English thou doest)’ is realized in Bitburger Platt as [dou dej s].

Bitburg is a town where many (if not most) residents are undergoing or have recently undergone a transition from a home-based, agrarian lifestyle to one requiring a commute to an urban center and more contact with nonlocals. Such a transition has been shown by other studies (Hofmann, 1963, Besch, 1981, Lenz, 2003) to go hand-in-hand with language shift, specifically a shift from the use of base dialects (basilects) to regional colloquial varieties that lie on a continuum between the base dialect and the standard and exhibit features of both.

The effects of situational and social factors on one’s language use have long been attested. Labov (1963, 1966) mainstreamed the discipline of studying such variation in language, but others before his time showed awareness of it as well (Vietor, 1875, Wegener, 1891). A sociolinguistic study can reveal much about a particular speech community, ranging from qualitative information on the community’s attitudes toward their language to quantifiable data that reveal how the individual community members actually speak. This study focuses heavily on the latter, specifically investigating correlations between participants’ age, gender, and recording situation and their articulation of the alveolar stop consonants (d) and (t).

Participants first took part in recorded interviews with me, and then in a conversation with a close friend or family member, during which I was not present. Their recordings were subsequently searched for all tokens with Standard German (d) and (t) correspondences in initial and medial position. Those tokens in initial position underwent analysis for voice onset time (VOT) and harmonic difference (H1-H2), both proven to be acoustic correlates to fortis/lenis contrasts (Lisker and Abramson, 1964, Jessen, 1996).

Medial tokens underwent analysis for the parameter of closure duration, also shown to be a fortis/lenis correlate.

Results indicate that participants show an overwhelming preference for merged variants in conversational speech - the indicator of dialecticity. In interview speech, however, the fortis/lenis contrast is maintained by all but the older men, a likely consequence of changing linguistic norms in the community.

–  –  –

ABSTRACT

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Chapters

1. INTRODUCTION

2. DIALECTOLOGY AND SOCIOLINGUISTICS

2.1 Origins of Dialectology

2.2 Origins of Sociolinguistics

2.3 Contemporary Work: Amalgamation of the Two Fields

2.3.1 Diatopic change

2.3.2 Diastratic change

2.4 Framework of the Present Study

2.4.1 Situational factors

2.4.2 Age and gender

2.4.3 Social network

2.5 Language Domains

2.6 Recapitulation

3. BACKGROUND OF GERMAN, BITGURG, AND VARIABLES OF STUDY..... 28

3.1 History of German and Bitburg

3.1.1 History of German stop consonants and the Second Sound Shift........ 28 3.1.2 West Germanic *6 and * d

3.2 Nature of Contrasts and Acoustic Correlates

3.2.1 The distinctive nature of the plosives

3.2.2 Acoustic analyses

3.3 Variables of Present Study

3.3.1 West Germanic *d

3.3.2 West Germanic *6

3.4 Research Questions

3.5 Summary of Significance

4. FIELDWORK AND ANALYSIS METHODOLOGY

4.1 Fieldwork and Participant Selection

4.2 Acoustic Analysis Parameters

4.2.1 Parameter 1: Voice onset time (VOT)

4.2.2 Parameter 2: Harmonic difference (H1-H2)





4.2.3 Parameter 3: Closure duration

4.3 Ensuing Steps

5. RESULTS

5.1 Stem-Initial/Stressed Position

5.1.1 Voice onset tim e

5.1.2 Harmonic difference

5.2 Intervocalic Position

5.2.1 Closure duration

5.2.2 Intervocalic anomalies

5.3 Summary and Answers to Research Questions

6. CONCLUSION

6.1 Conclusions from Study

6.1.1 Recapitulation and significance of results

6.1.2 Doglossia vs. diaglossia

6.1.3 Status of Bitburger Platt and community

6.2 Reflection and Implications for Future Research

6.2.1 Successes and shortcomings with fieldwork

6.2.1 Lessons from analysis

6.2.3 Other investigable variables

6.3 Conclusion

REFERENCES

–  –  –

VOT of 26ms in dann

VOT of 28ms in Dialekt

–  –  –

I would first like to thank my wife, Andrea, who gave me the love, support and technical assistance I needed to finish this dissertation. Next, a measure of gratitude is due to Jeff, my statistician: his contribution to this project was indispensable. I would also like to thank my committee members for their unwavering support and guidance throughout. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the people of Wiersdorf, especially the Lehnens, who housed and fed me and offered assistance in finding participants.

–  –  –

Linguistic variation in the German-speaking world has long been of interest to philologists, dialectologists, and those in other subfields of linguistics. As many of the German dialects are now endangered or already extinct (all unfortunate examples of the worldwide mass extinction of languages (Krauss, 1992)), it is now all the more important that linguists document and investigate them. This study investigates the speech patterns of the residents of a handful of villages northwest of Bitburg, a town in the far-western reaches of the Rhineland-Palatinate province. Many, if not most, of the families in these villages are undergoing or have already undergone a transition from a home-based, agrarian lifestyle to one requiring a commute to an urban center and much contact with nonlocals, a transition shown by other studies (Hofmann, 1963; Besch, 1981; Milroy,

1985) to go hand-in-hand with language shift.

My grounds for selecting this speech community for research are not solely personal. Though my family has had extensive contact with many members of this community since my father’s deployment to Bitburg Air Base in the late 1980s (a reality that has indeed facilitated this fieldwork), several other factors justify a study of the Bitburg area. Apart from the transitional nature of the community’s day-to-day lifestyle,

–  –  –

linguistic situation, the community is geographically situated in a region of Germany that would also best be described as transitional. The town of Bitburg lies in a crossover zone between the Low German varieties to the north and the High German varieties to the South, exhibiting features of both major varieties, as well as some other traits unique to the area.

Besides its interesting position within the German continuum, Bitburg also lies within a short distance of the Romance/Germanic border and has historically belonged to different nations, including Luxembourg, leading to hundreds of French loanwords being adopted into the common lexicon. Thus, due to factors both external and internal to German, a multiplicity of phonological, and morphological, and lexical isoglosses crisscross the area, a fact which dialect geographers and dialectologists have long since noted. For historical linguists and phonologists, a large number of linguistic phenomena present themselves in this region, many of which have limited or uncertain explanations, and the opportunities to investigate many of them are waning as many communities abandon features of the basilect (i.e. maximally dialectal speech) and use more regiolectal (regional nonstandard varieties) or colloquial Standard German.

Bitburger Platt is still relatively viable when compared to most other German dialects. Shown in Figure 1.1 is a map of the relative dialecticity (i.e. linguistic distance from standard language) in the province of Rhineland-Palatinate, taken by Lenz from the Middle Rheine Language Atlas; Lenz’s arrow points to the village of Wittlich, the seat of Bitburg’s neighboring Kreis (the German equivalent of an American ‘county’), while my addition of the red arrow and concentric circles gives the location of Bitburg. According

–  –  –

Figure 1.1: Map of relative dialecticity in Rhineland-Palatinate province language and the vernacular are moderate to strong, while Bitburg’s differences from the standard are strong to very strong.

While the sociolinguistic dynamics of the town of Wittlich have been recently investigated (Lenz, 2003), Bitburg has, to my knowledge, no such history of sociolinguistic work: a gap this study seeks to fill. In addition, it is my hope that this study will introduce the linguistic community to the fascinating language dynamics of this German frontier area, inciting further studies and investigations, not just in dialectology or sociolinguistics, but in all relevant fields, including language

–  –  –

The effects of situational and social factors on one’s language use have long been attested. Labov (1963, 1966) mainstreamed the discipline of studying such variation in language, but others before his time showed awareness of it as well (Vietor, 1875;

Wegener, 1891). A sociolinguistic study can reveal much about a particular speech community, ranging from qualitative information on the community’s attitudes toward their language to quantifiable data that reveal how the individual community members actually speak. This study focuses heavily on the latter, specifically investigating correlations between alveolar stop consonants and the participants’ age, gender, and situation (interview or conversation) in which they were being recorded. Studies of this nature can benefit not only the field of linguistics but also the people of the speech community: Bitburger Platt, like most German dialects, is endangered, and knowledge about the community’s language dynamics, as well as the symptoms and causes of language shift or death (Gal, 1978; Dorian, 1981; Campbell and Muntzel, 1989) could be used to recognize it early and help reverse it, if the community desires.

This dissertation is organized as follows. Chapter 2 gives an overview of early dialectological work in Germany, presents the framework of sociolinguistics and other contemporary work, and discusses situation, gender, and age (the independent variables).

Chapter 3 provides a sketch of the linguistic classification of German, shows where the Bitburger Platt dialect falls in, gives a historical overview of German (d) and (t) (the dependent variables under study here), and presents the research questions. Chapter 4 discusses the methodology of my fieldwork and of the measurements taken, while

–  –  –

This sociophonetic study - the first ever conducted in the Bitburger area - takes into account and builds off of decades of research in two fields of linguistics. The first of these, dialectology, has laid some of the most important foundations; the dialectologists’ efforts to locate the boundaries and document the defining characteristics of individual dialects (Wenker, 1881; Guillieron, 1902-10; Wrede et al., 1927-56) as well as their research into the causes and processes of linguistic divergence (Harnisch, 2010; Lenz,

2010) are critical in understanding the history of the community’s speech patterns as well as its history.

The theories, methods, and findings of the second field, sociolinguistics, are critical in researching and understanding a community’s synchronic language patterns (Labov, 1963; Weinreich et al., 1968; Besch, 1981; Milroy, 1985). Like dialectology, however, they have brought us closer to understanding the causes and process of language change. The hope is that this study, a product of these two fields, will not merely be an addition to both, but also that it will contribute to the growing body of contemporary literature (Lenz, 2003; Schmidt, 2010; Schmidt and Herrgen, 2011) that demonstrates the common goals and interconnectedness of the two fields.

–  –  –

conducted on the regional, nonstandard varieties of German. Sections 2.1 and 2.2 deal with dialectology and sociolinguistics, respectively, describing the motivation behind and the accomplishments of both fields. In section 2.3, I present some examples of presentday research, which has drawn on the theories of both fields, erasing the distinction between the two somewhat. Finally, in 2.4, I demonstrate what implications the preceding studies have on the framework of the Bitburger Platt project.



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