Lexical variation in a nutshell: The sociolinguistics of Luxembourgish football language
2022-04-12, 14:30–15:00 (Europe/Vienna), Room 3


Luxembourg – a multilingual country with the three official languages Luxembourgish, German, and French – is a wonderful playground for all kinds of research dealing with language variation and language contact (e.g., Berg 1993, Fehlen 2009, Conrad 2017, Gilles in press). The manifold lexical variation in Luxembourgish society overall is found in a nutshell in the Luxembourgish football language: Besides German (Fallrückzieher ‘bicycle kick’, Doppelpass ‘give-and-go’), French (Touche ‚throw-in‘, Petit-pont ‚nutmeg‘) and English (Gol, Hands) terms, also Luxembourgish idiosyncrasies are present (Selbstgol ‚own goal‘). Due to the strong contact with German and French over many centuries, there exist many lexical doublets in Luxembourgish – i. e. pairs of synonyms with a corresponding variant in German (e.g. Doppelpass ‘double pass’) and French (e.g. Une-deux ‘double pass’). The paper presents the richness of this contact-induced variation in a small and under-documented Germanic language in the heart of Europe. The results of three analyses are combined (Conrad 2020a, 2020b, in prep.): The ‘Champions-League-Corpus’ – commentaries in Luxembourgish of the finals of the Champions-League in the years 2008-2018 – reveals many lexical doublets, with both variants often used by the same commentator (Conrad 2020a). The results of an online survey dedicated to an in-depth analysis of these doublets (n=1189 participants) confirm the huge lexical variety in the Luxembourgish football language (Conrad 2020b): While many doublets show different preferences for either the German or the French variant, in other cases the participants have equal preferences for both variants. Finally, the correlation of the results from Conrad (2020b) with the sociodemographic and attitudinal information of the participants reveals interesting tendencies, e.g. with respect to age and language preferences (Conrad, in prep.). The paper summaries and combines the main results of the three studies to the ‘sociolinguistics of Luxembourgish football language’. It reveals the huge lexical variation in a complex multilingual society, reflecting linguistic trends and dynamics in Luxembourgish society as a whole.


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