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Swabian

Swabian

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Published by: Cassie Warholm-Wohlenhaus on Nov 13, 2011
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11/13/2011

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Virtually all languages of the world have dialects of one kind or another, and this ismore often true than not with the more widespread languages, such as English, German,French, Chinese, etc. These dialects are often spread out over a large number of peoplewho are separated by geographic features, distance or cultural differences that keep themseparate, though this is less so in the present, considering the frequency with which people travel and move. Distinct dialects are becoming more at risk of being assimilatedinto the larger, more “standardized” dialects, which would cause these small, uniquedialects to die out. This kind of language death has a special kind of impact on itsspeakers. In this paper I will discuss the marginalized dialect of German, a dialect knownas Swabian (Schwäbisch, in German), and the feelings of one of its speakers about their dialect and its minority status.My informant for this paper is an old friend named Tabea Madeline Ulmer. She is 18years old and lives in a small village called Hohenhaslach located about an hour and ahalf south of Stuttgart, Germany. She was born in Mühlacker, which is a larger townnearby that has a hospital; since then she has lived in Hohenhaslach for nearly all of her life, save for ten months spent in Lindström, Minnesota living with my family in 2002-2003. Hohenhaslach is a small town with a relatively stable population, that is, many of the people living there have been living there most of their lives, and Tabea has said thatmost of her friends grew up in the village or surrounding area. She acquired the Swabiandialect from her parents, relatives and peers—it was her first acquired language. Tabeaalso speaks French, learned in school and in short immersion programs in France, andEnglish, learned in school and through her exchange in America, as well as a smallamount of Spanish, which she learned in school while she was here in America.
 
A basic linguistic sketch for standard German (SG) will be useful here. German andEnglish, being in the same Germanic language family, have many of the same vowels.See Table 1 for all the vowels of standard German (included at the end of this paper).These vowels differ based on length, and also there is differentiation between tersevowels and lax vowels. The consonants are much the same as in English also, withdifferences between the /r/ and more fricatives and velar and uvular consonants being a part of the sound inventory. Again, a full table of consonants of standard German isincluded at the end of this paper as Table 2. German has much more morphologicalcomplexity than English, generally. For example, there is a vast number of suffixes and prefixes that are used to make virtually any verb into a noun, and noun into a verb, andany noun or verb into an adjective, and vice versa; application of these prefixes andsuffixes are patterned, generally, but a large number of variants are possible, and most of them are grammatical, as long as phonological and grammatical rules for applying theseaffixes are followed.The syntax of standard German is relatively free in terms of nouns and the ordering phrases because of a large amount of noun declination, whereas the rules for verb placement are somewhat stricter than in English. Generally the verb of a one-verbsentence or the auxiliary verb of a multiple-verb sentence comes as the second word inthe sentence, and all other verbs come at the end of the clause. For example:1. One verb: Der Hund geht durch die Straße (The dog walks through the street.)[d hunt ge:t d di: as ]
 
2. Two: Der Mann lässt den Hund herum laufen (The man lets the dog run around)[d man 1 st d:en hunt h um laufn]In the first example, we see the verb (geht) in second position (that is, immediately after the noun, der Hund). In the second example, we see the auxiliary verb (lässt) in thesecond position, whereas the additional verb (or main verb) falls at the end of thesentence in its infinitive form (laufen). Questions are created with the use of (1) aquestion word in the first position, which does not change the word order or anything elsein the sentence, or (2) by placing the verb or auxiliary verb in the first position.1. Wie geht der Hund durch die Straße? (How does the dog walk through the street?)[vi: ge:t d hunt d di: t as ]2. Lässt der Mann den Hund herum laufen? Also possible as3. Lässt den Hund der Mann herum laufen? (both: Does the man let the dog runaround? [1 st de:n hunt d man h um laufn ]In numbers 2 and 3 we see a bit of the free variation of nouns due to the declention of thedefinite article; in this case, the article is the masculine “der” for both of the nouns; for “Mann” the article stays the same to mark the nominative case, whereas for “Hund” thearticle is changed to “den” to mark the accusative case. Further, you can mark also thedative and genitive cases with changes to the definite article, making the word order veryfree for these words.The Swabian dialect is quite different from standard German (Hochdeutsch, inGerman) in many ways. Firstly, the dipthongs [ ] and [ ] are pronounced as [ ] and[ ], respectively. The pronunciation of some consonants is altered (for example, s
 before consonants, whereas in standard German it would remain [s]). [ ] and [ ] are

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