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BAG – Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork Project


Irmengard Rauch

The sixteen chapters comprising this book on the Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork Project offer over twenty-five years of research into the changing language of native speakers and first-generation American-German speakers residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 1984 the principal project investigator, Irmengard Rauch, together with students of Germanic linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has elicited and analyzed an array of linguistic phenomena that include politically correct (PC) German, the German language of vulgarity and civility, and the grammar of e-mailing and texting German as well as that of snail-mail German. Comparison data were also gathered from Berlin in the case of the PC German and from Bonn in the case of the vulgarity/civility project. In recording the sounds of spoken German in the Bay Area, the BAG fieldworkers interviewed not only German-speaking adults but also first-generation German-speaking children (yielding a «Kinderlect») to compare with the spoken English of both of these groups. Still other studies focus on the interplay among gesture, emotion, and language; canine-human communication; the architecture of the lie; and the architecture of the apology. Chapter one details the modus operandi of the BAG research project.
This book is useful for the study of the sociolinguistics of German, English-German bilingualism, general linguistics, and the methods of linguistic fieldwork.
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Chapter 12: BAG VIII: Emotion, Gesture, Language


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Chapter 12

BAG VIII: Emotion, Gesture, Language*


The current Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork Project (BAG) on “Emotion, Gesture, Language” represents the first Bay Area German project to study non-verbal communication in its twenty years of researching the language structures and habits of native German and first generation German speakers residing in the Bay Area. The hypothesis formation and fieldwork questionnaire design were thus unusually challenging. The questionnaire, quite unique among all previous Bay Area German questionnaires, consists of two parts: Part One presents ten scenarios and asks the informant to rank from 1 to 6 (“the most likely to the least likely”, respectively), six suggested emotions, six suggested gestures, and six suggested verbal reactions to each scenario. Part Two of the questionnaire presents to the informant visual images lacking verbal cues and requests that the informants themselves suggest up to three emotions, three gestures, and three verbal reactions prompted by each visual image. Finally as a redux task, the informant is shown the identical visual images with their verbal cues restored, asking the informant to supply the emotion as perceived in the redux image. Eighteen informants participated in this intricate project; data from twelve informants who scaled their answers from 1 to 6 in Part One provide the research data for this paper. It is found that emotion is most often not a simplex, but rather a complex or at least a compound. In evaluating the fit or correlation...

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