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National Varieties of German outside Germany

A European Perspective


Edited By Gabrielle Hogan-Brun

In what way do the national varieties of German outside Germany differ? How do they manifest themselves in different levels of language use? What attitudes exist towards the use of these varieties and how are they reflected in national and European-wide language policies? What is the role of the media?
This collection of especially commissioned articles, written in English by internationally renowned experts, explores these and related questions. It draws together research on the status and role of German and on attitudes towards its use in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy (South Tyrol), France (Alsace), Denmark (Nordschleswig) and Hungary.


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Outsiders' Attitudes towards the Swiss German Dialects and Swiss Standard German 67


Felicity Rash Outsiders' Attitudes towards the Swiss German Dialects and Swiss Standard German This chapter examines the diversity of attitudes towards the spoken dialects and the written standard language of German-speaking Switzerland. It presents the subjective views of the non German- speaking Swiss and of a variety of 'outsiders', most notably those of non-Swiss speakers of German, and of different types of visitors to German-speaking Switzerland. 1 The attitudes of these outsiders to Swiss German are influenced by certain stereotypes. Here, three main types of stereotype are investigated: autostereotypes, heterostereo- types and projective heterostereotypes. It is concluded that outsiders share many attitudes towards the Swiss German dialects and Swiss Standard German: nearly all find the dialects difficult to understand, and while many find them ugly and harsh-sounding, others find them melodious and quaint. The dialects are frequently criticized by those outsiders who have invested time and effort in learning Standard German, as most German-speaking Swiss prefer to speak dialect, which they regard as their mother tongue, and are reluctant to speak standard German, even with visitors. 1 Introduction The attitudes of one group of human beings towards another are frequently based on subjective stereotypes. While such stereotypes cannot be easily measured against empirical evidence, some would maintain that it is impossible to classify the world and its inhabitants I have briefly examined the attitudes of Germans and 'Gastarbeiter· (guest workers) in my book (Rash 1998). 68 Felicity Rash without them: as Werner Koller ( 1992: 134-136) points out, it is easy...

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