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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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The German Language in Austria 103


Victoria Martin The German Language in Austria The sociolinguistic situation in Austria is characterised by the great flexibility which speakers have to modify their speech, incorporating features drawn from the standard, the local and regional dialect and sometimes from other varieties as well. The extent to which features from lower down the social dialect continuum are incorporated into a person's speech conveys a wealth of social and stylistic meaning and thus is a very important tool in communication. However, the fact that features can be mixed in this fashion creates problems when it comes to defining the standard language in Austria. Introduction Austria is a small country with a population of only just over 8 million, 1.6 million of whom live in the capital, Vienna (von Baratta 1999: 585). Outside Vienna, the population is largely rural, the second-largest city, Graz, having a population of 241 ,000; indeed Eisenstadt, the capital of the eastern-most federal state of Burgenland, boasts a mere 11,700 inhabitants (ibid: 581). The national language is German, although there are significant linguistic minorities, and some regions are partially bilingual (e.g. the Oberwart region on the Hungarian border; Gal 1979). Carinthia, which borders on Slovenia, and Burgenland, which borders on Croatia and on Hungary, both contain linguistic minority speakers. A 1981 census put the number of Slovene speakers at 18,640, of Croatian speakers at 22,113, of Hungarian speakers at 12,043 and of Czech speakers at 5,101 (Osterreichische Rektorenkonferenz 1989: 58). As a result of...

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