Virtually all languages of the world have dialects of one kind or another, and this is more 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 people who are separated by geographic features, distance or cultural differences that keep them separate, 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 assimilated into the larger, more “standardized” dialects, which would cause these small, unique dialects to die out. This kind of language death has a special kind of impact on its speakers. In this paper I will discuss the marginalized dialect of German, a dialect known as 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 18 years old and lives in a small village called Hohenhaslach located about an hour and a half south of Stuttgart, Germany. She was born in Mühlacker, which is a larger town nearby 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 20022003. 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 that most of her friends grew up in the village or surrounding area. She acquired the Swabian dialect from her parents, relatives and peers—it was her first acquired language. Tabea also speaks French, learned in school and in short immersion programs in France, and English, learned in school and through her exchange in America, as well as a small amount 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 and English, 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 terse vowels and lax vowels. The consonants are much the same as in English also, with differences 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 is included at the end of this paper as Table 2. German has much more morphological complexity 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, and any noun or verb into an adjective, and vice versa; application of these prefixes and suffixes 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 these affixes 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-verb sentence or the auxiliary verb of a multiple-verb sentence comes as the second word in the 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 the second position, whereas the additional verb (or main verb) falls at the end of the sentence in its infinitive form (laufen). Questions are created with the use of (1) a question word in the first position, which does not change the word order or anything else in 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 as 3. Lässt den Hund der Mann herum laufen? (both: Does the man let the dog run around? [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 the definite 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” the article is changed to “den” to mark the accusative case. Further, you can mark also the dative and genitive cases with changes to the definite article, making the word order very free for these words. The Swabian dialect is quite different from standard German (Hochdeutsch, in German) 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

pronounced as [e] and [i], respectively. The impersonal pronoun (English equivalent: they) “man” [man] is spoken as [ma] or [mr]. At the end of words [en] is reduced to [a] or [ ]. The diminutive suffix –lein [la n] is reduced to either a syllabic [l] or to [l ]. The first person plural pronoun “wir” [vi: ] is pronounced [mi: ]. In general, Swabian is famous among German speakers for leaving many vowels out of words, therby making many consonants syllabic. This is one reason Swabian is often thought of as being extremely hard to pronounce or thought of as sounding “thicker” or “denser” than other dialects, due to the large concentration of consonantal clusters and syllabic consonants. The conjugation of the third person singular changes from –t to –ad (for example the verb “machen” [ma:x n] normally conjugates to “macht” [ma:xt] for the 3rd person singular, but in Swabian it would be “machad” [ma:xad]). There is sometimes use of double perfect constructions, which would be ungrammatical in standard German. For example: Ich han gmacht ghet (Standard spelling: Ich habe gemacht gehat; Standard German: Ich habe gemacht) (English: I have done it; Literal translation from Swabian: I have have done it.) The imperative for is used in the indicative sense for some verbs, for example, “I iss Floesch” (SG: Ich esse Fleisch, E: I eat meat), where “iss” is the imperative form of the verb “essen” in standard German. Instead of using specific relative pronouns (der, die, das, welcher, welche, welches), which are chosen based on the gender and case of the noun they refer back to, the question word “wo” is used for all of the different genders and cases. For example:

1. Dia Frao, wo I an Kuss gaba hann,… (SG: Der Frau, de rich einen Kuss gegeben habe… E: The woman, who I a kiss have given  The woman I gave a kiss to) Certain nouns have different genders (for example, in Swabian the word for “butter” is masculine, whereas it is feminine in SG). Where standard German only has one variation for the word “two” (zwei [tsva :]), Swabian uses different variations for the different genders: “zwoa” [tsvoa] for masculine nouns, “zwee” [tsve:] for feminine nouns and “zwua” [tsvua] for neuter nouns. In addition to all of these differences, there are general lexical changes; very large amounts of nouns are different from the standard German words for those same nouns. A couple examples would be “Oeser” for SG “Einser” 9the single guy) and “Base” for SG “Kusine” (cousin). Here is an example of a Swabian tongue twister and its SG, English, and IPA counterparts: 1. Dr Babschd hot sSchbätzlesbschtegg zschbäd bschdelld. Dr bab t ha:t s b tslzb d z p d b d ld]

SG: Der Pabst hat das Spätzle-Besteck zu spat bestellt. E: The pope ordered his pasta-eating-utensils too late.

Here we see differences in definite article pronunciation, dropping of vowels and subsequent creation of syllabic consonants (like the [b] in “bschtegg”), differences in the pronunciation of some vowels (like the umlaut in “zschbäd”), and obvious differences in the orthography. The fact that Schwabian is written to refer to the phonetics of their speech rather than to refer to standard German in any way accounts for this difference in

orthography. For more examples of Swabian orthography, the Wikipedia Swabian page is quite interesting, at least for a German speaker, to see the differences. Now for my speaker, Tabea. I asked her a little bit about her language and how she feels about it, and she had some very interesting things to say. Firstly, if you’re a native speaker of Swabian, it is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to speak good, accentless Hochdeutsch. So speakers of Swabian can be separated out from standard German speakers based on their accent. She says she is sure she will always have an accent, no matter how hard she tries, though their speech is less accented than the elderly of Swabia. Older people mostly only speak the dialect, whereas young people are used to speaking both Swabian and standard German, with an accent. Swabian is spoken with her family and the friends from her village, who are all people who have lived there most of their lives, in her case. Hardly anyone speaks Swabian in the larger towns and small cities, even if they’re in the geographical are where Swabian is spoken. For example, she says she doesn’t speak Swabian when she goes shopping in Bietigheim, a nearby city. She would speak standard German in the city, with people from outside her village, and when writing or speaking in the business world/in governmental situations. She dislikes the sound and accent of Swabian (she doesn’t think it’s pretty, she says) but she is proud of her Swabian because of its ties with her culture, and she’s proud to be a Swabian. Most other non-Swabian Germans dislike the dialect because they think it “sounds weird or ugly.” However, the Germans seem to think much more highly of the people than the dialect; the stereotype of the Swabian people is that they are hardworking, save their money and build their own houses. So the cultural stereotype is somewhat positive, but the dialect is seen as a bit of a black spot in the culture.

Swabian is not “forbidden” in schools, per se, but it is unfavorable to talk with an accent. If you speak or write with a very strong Swabian in the schools however, you can be punished for it (detention or something similar), and people whose Swabian accents are very heavy are seen as being unintelligent. Swabian is not taught in schools at all, only standard German. It is also expected that, if you’re in business, you will speak only standard German, as accentless as possible. I also asked Tabea if she would teach Swabian to her children, and she gave quite a good answer, summing up many of these points. “Yes, I would, because it’s a heritage and I don’t want it to be lost. But other than that I would also want my children to learn a good Hochdeutsch because if you want to be successful you need to talk a very good Hochdeutsch too.” This shows the attitudes towards the minority language as something you need to know for success, but also the heritage of the Swabians and that it is important to the culture. In conclusion, the minority German dialect of Swabian is an important part of the culture of Germany. Along with Bavaria, Swabia is one of the most important cultural groups of southern Germany, and it has its Swabian dialect at the center of this. If this dialect were lost, it would purely be losing an interesting linguistic dialect, as there is currently no language barrier between Swabians and other Germans, and would also be a loss of part of the cultural heritage of southern Germany.

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