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Auer, Peter 1

Auer, Peter

Peter Auer, born in Regensburg, Germany, in 1954. Ph.D. from the University of Constance. Professor of German Linguistics at the University of Freiburg.

Fellow (1 September 2013 – 31 January 2014)


Research Question

The research proposal addresses the way in which speakers make use of variation in language to express local belonging and therefore develop, and display to each other, a ‘sense of place’.

Project Description

The research proposal combines variational linguistics, urban sociolinguistics, human geography and research on language contact. Two empirical issues will be addressed: (a) transformations of the indexical meaning of phonological variables in late modern urban sociolinguistic contexts, and (b) the emergence of highly local fused varieties in isolated industrial communities.

In the second case, an isolated community of work migrants who were hired in the mining industry, coming from different European countries (Poland, Italy, etc.) in the 1920s and 1930s, developed a special variety which combines Dutch (different local varieties of Limburg), German and some few elements from Italian. (The historical details under which the variety emerged still need to be investigated.) The new variety still is the vernacular of retired coal-miners in Eisden today when speaking among themselves. It offers a rare window into the structural details of merging processes among closely related languages (Dutch and German). The variety also allows insights into the identity-related conditions under which “fused lects” can emerge in a small community of practice. This process is part of the coal-miners’ attempt to maintain a sense of ‘their’ place.

Selected Publications

1) “Enregistering pluricentric German”, in print. In: Augusto Soares da Silva (eds.) Pluricentricity. Language Variation and Sociocognitive Dimensions. Amsterdam: Benjamins. (see http://portal.uni-freiburg.de/sdd/fragl/auer2012.3)

2) “State borders and language change: the (non-)effects of political border permeability on language”, in print. In P. Gilles, H. Koff, C. Maganda and C. Schulz (eds.) Theorizing borders through analyses of power relationships. Brussels: Peter Lang. (see http://portal.uni-freiburg.de/sdd/fragl/auer2012.4

3) “Ethnische Marker zwischen Varietät und Stil”, 2013, in: A. Deppermann (Hrsg.), Das Deutsch der Migranten. (=Jahrbuch des Instituts für Deutsche Sprache 2012). Berlin: de Gruyter, S. 9-40.

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