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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 16: BAG XII: German Netspeak/Textspeak


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Chapter 16

BAG XII: German Netspeak/Textspeak*


Pursuant to its 1999 publication “BAG VI: Toward a Grammar of German e-mail” and in view of the fast-moving new digital technology of the past decade, BAG XII offers fresh email data as well as virtual text messaging data with the aim to ascertain in how far respondents distinguish texting from e-mailing and the features of each. The Netspeak/Textspeak questionnaire, conducted entirely in German, consists of five parts for which fourteen informants provided data. The basis of the analysis of the 2012 BAG XII data is the 58 fields posited for the 1999 BAG VI data. Emailers outnumber texters throughout the data. The fundamental answer as to whether our informants recognize a length difference between emailing and texting is confirmed. Brevity, the hallmark of textiquette, is further fed by elicited acronyms and abbreviations. The data analysis is interdigitated with the fourteen informant profiles.

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