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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2021

Situational Effects on Intra-individual Variation in German – Reflexes of Middle High German ei in Austrian Speech Repertoires

Johanna Fanta-Jende


The aim of this chapter is to discuss the role of intra-speaker variation in the dialect-standard-axis across different situations. The empirical input consists of language data from speakers in rural areas of German-speaking Austria, which represent major Bavarian dialect regions (Alemannic-Bavarian, Central Bavarian, South Bavarian). To capture a broad section of the individuals’ language repertoires, the data have been collected in various ‘natural’ conversational and standardised survey settings: an interview conducted by a foreign academic, an unguided conversation among friends, two translation tasks, and two reading-aloud tasks. Using the complex phonological variable Middle High German ei, the intra-speaker variation of 20 selected speakers with varying socio-demographic backgrounds is explored quantitatively (frequency analysis and regression models). As the results illustrate, the cross-situational comparison represents a reliable method to explore the language repertoires of various individuals. Up to five phonological variants within one speaker were able to be identified. Furthermore, the author concludes that focussing on intra-individual cross-situational variation not only allows for an in-depth analysis of varying factors influencing language use but it also proves to be a successful methodological concept to gain insights into the overall socialvertical and areal-horizontal dimension of language variation in Austria.

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