Edited by Massimo Cerruti and Stavroula Tsiplakou
[Studies in Language Variation 24] 2020
Chapter 5. Reduction and persistence of phonological dialect features in German
Like in most European speech communities, the loss of rural dialects and the emergence of regional varieties could also be observed within the German speaking area since at least the 19th century. Previous research on mechanisms influencing the selection process of dialect features was mainly carried out on a theoretical level. This paper aims at contributing an empirical component by presenting the results of a study with focus on selection mechanisms of phonological dialect features in southwest Germany. It will be argued that similarity to the standard, geographical spread, grammatical function and frequency are factors of major importance regarding the chance of survival of dialect features during their transition from rural dialects to regional standard contexts. Of the seven phonological phenomena analysed, in the end only one clearly remains: /s/-palatalisation. Interestingly, this feature does not necessarily possess positive social salience, but is apparently hard to abandon for speakers from the Southwest.