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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 15: BAG XI: Toward Human : Canine Communication


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Chapter 15

BAG XI: Toward Human : Canine Communication*


Now in its twenty-seventh year, the Bay Area German Linguistics Fieldwork Project (BAG) has undertaken with its current study another paradigm change, this time a bold one venturing into the realm of non- human communication, specifically that of dogs and how they communicate with native German humans. Accordingly, in Fall 2008 the BAG XI Project began by devising a three-part fieldwork questionnaire with the aim of soliciting hard specific data reflective of human : dog communication. The questionnaire and interviews were conducted in German in 2009. Gesture in human to human verbal exchanges is held by some (cf. e.g., Korte 1997:26) to be even as high as over 70% of the message. Common sense dictated that we include gesture components in our questionnaire. Thus Part I asks informants for the words and for the gestures they would direct toward their dog in ten given German scenarios. Part II asks informants for the sounds and for the gestures their dog would make in ten given German scenarios. Part III asks informants to indicate their preference between two putatively synonymous common commands, listed by dog schools as standard. Part III also asks informants to suggest substitutes for the proposed eight standard commands. Twelve human informants and twelve dog informants participated, the latter anthropomorphically, that is, via the eyes and ears of their human surrogates. The wealth of BAG XI data allow multifaceted insights. The...

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