David Martin Kleinberg, Ph.d.

Oachkatzlschwoaf: A Study of Language Choice in Ried im Innkreis, Austria

(Under the direction of Paul Roberge)


ABSTRACT: A statistical analysis of data collected via self-reporting questionnaires and participant observation in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, shows that the speakers in this community typically prefer to speak their local dialect rather than Standard German or colloquial varieties, at a significantly higher frequency in more domains than speakers in other communities of similar size in Austria. Data from Ried im Innkreis are compared with results from Steinegger (1998) and Wiesinger (1989b), in which similar surveys were distributed throughout Austria. Factors that typically correlate with the choice of dialect over colloquial or standard varieties of German in large cities in Austria, such as socioeconomic class, do not play a significant role in Ried im Innkreis due to the small size of the community. The same trends apparent in the rest of the Austria with regard to gender are apparent in Ried. Males report that they speak dialect slightly more often than females, and a decrease in dialect use by females is indicated which corresponds to typical child-raising years and retirement. The trends for age and dialect frequency are generally consistent with previous findings for Austria. School-aged speakers report that they use dialect more often than adults. Adult commuters speak dialect more often than non-commuters in intimate situations with family and friends. School-aged commuters report that they speak less dialect than non-commuters in school and when speaking with strangers. Social network strength is a significant factor, and correlates positively with frequency of dialect use, but only in situations where a speaker is in their own social network. Speakersí attitudes regarding dialect and Standard German, speakers of dialect, and their own choice of speech variety can provide psychological explanations for their choice of variety in a given domain. Positive attitudes regarding the dialect itself, speakers of the local dialect and local loyalty are positively correlated with frequency of dialect use. Predictions for the future vitality of the local dialect are also made, based on current and historical demographic trends and the respondentsí attitudes regarding dialect and standard varieties of German.