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Variation in German: A Critical Approach to German Sociolinguistics Paperback – 10 May 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (10 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521357047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521357043
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 958,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a comprehensive, lucid, lively, and extremely readable account of regional variation in German or the German research tradition in this field." Language

"...by far the most comprehensive text available in the field....The text will benefit a diverse audience. For instructors and researchers interested in the German language, the book is a must, since it presents important information nowhere else available in such a concise, up-to-date, and generally well-organized manner. For the sociolinguist, the book presents one of the few successful attempts to apply the tradition of sociolinguistics to a single language system." Helga H. DeLisle, Polylingua

"...an excellent example of a way to extend the boundaries of what is considered relevant and significant for language study." Mary E. Wildner-Bassett, The Modern Language Journal

"...bring[s] a valuable multidimensional approach on a diachronic palette to the study of linguistic variation in German....I rather expect that Barbour and Stevenson will establish themselves as a regular entry on many graduate program reading lists." Craig W. Nickisch, German Studies Review

Book Description

This book examines the interrelations between language and society in the German-speaking countries. It is the most detailed account yet to appear in English of German sociolinguistics.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 May 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been using this book as extra reading for my German Linguistics course at university, along with "The Structure of German", by Anthony Fox. The material covered goes into much greater detail than covered in lectures, which is very useful for essay writing. The book contains many examples of the ideas covered, and had two useful appendices - a guide to the phonetic symbols of German, and a glossary of all of the terms used throughout the book. Definitely a recommended purchase if studying the linguistic side of the German language.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A bit on the dry side, but informative 15 Dec. 2000
By J. G. Heiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In a relatively small geographic area, the German-speaking areas demonstrate an amount of linguistic diversity that is well outside of the experience of English speakers growing up in America. This lingual variety fascinates me, and I found the book not only helped explain how the current state was reached, but also provided some ideas on how it might continue to evolve.
The historical background chapter satisfied my curiosity about German origins, but also explained why Norwegian has so many Tysk cognates. Dialectology is not an area that I had explored before, such as the concept of 'isoglosses', which are geographical boundaries separating regions with different speech characteristics. Apparently the patterns for rolling the 'r', with the front trill being replaced by a back of the throat sound, are spreading simultaneously across multiple languages. The isogloss chart for these shows how this characteristic tends to be separated on a north south basis both in the French and German speaking regions. (If you are concerned that my lay explanation isn't technical enough, rest assured that this book also uses terminology such as 'voiceless lenis obstruents'-there should be no worry that college students will be ruined by reading a book that is too easy.)
The authors also wrote on urban speech patterns, a subject area they feel has been inadequately addressed by studies of German, and on class differences. I continue to be mesmerized by Swiss diglossia, and I appreciated a chart mapping out the Swiss pattern of dialect and Hochdeutsch use according to social context. (Incidentally, class differences in Swiss German are minimal in comparison to Austria and Germany.)
Switzerland, Italy, France, Luxemburg, and Belgium all have transition areas where German rubs against one or more languages, and the result of this is different in each area. The authors analyze the linguistic changes ongoing in these border regions, including the northern parts of Germany, where Danish and Frisian are disappearing.
Each chapter ends with a 'Further Reading' section that recommends classic and other relevant texts. The book concludes with a short glossary, containing both English and German terminology, and a lengthy bibliography of both German and English sources.
Certainly this book is most appealing to those who are interested specifically in the German language. However, outside of a one short section, a knowledge of German is not expected, nor is a background in either linguistics or sociology. I expect most of the readers to be German-speakers, but the book would also be useful to those who are just interested in the social issues of language, or are doing research in the subject.
Instead of doing a broad-brush introduction to Socio-Linguistics, the authors chose to introduce the concept by focusing on a single language, an approach that I found very successful and accessible.
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