Perception of and attitudes towards standard and non-standard German in the context of teaching at Viennese universities
2022-04-14, 10:00–10:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 1

Many people perceive universities to be public arenas, where people are interacting homogeneously in standard German (cf. Löffler 2003: 5). But does this envisioned monolingual conception of universities correspond with reality? The present contribution addresses this question by empirically investigating the perceptions and attitudes of students and faculty at the five biggest universities of Vienna, regarding the oral, variational usage of the German language in the context of lecturing. The study is based on the students’ and professors’ self-assessment of their usage of standard and non-standard German, and, concerning the informants’ speaking patterns, focuses on questions like when, in which specific situation, how and with whom.
Krammer (in print), as well as the research project VAMUS - „Verknüpfte Analyse von Mehrsprachigkeiten am Beispiel der Universität Salzburg“ (Dannerer / Mauser 2019), and an empirical study about language attitudes in the context of Viennese children’s universities are of paramount importance as background for the analysis and comparison of results.
Methodologically, my research makes use of a mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) survey. The sample of the online-questionnaire consists of over 1.800 students selected from different fields of study at the five biggest universities of Vienna: Studies in political science (University of Vienna), architecture (Technical University of Vienna), economic law (Vienna University of Economics and Business), environmental management (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna) and human medicine (Medical University of Vienna).
The thematic complexes of the questionnaire relate to the research questions and deal with:
- The varieties of the German language students and lecturers use, for which reason and in which different didactic and situational constellations at university.
- The aspect of appropriateness regarding the usage of non-standard German at university.
- The students’ perception of lecturers’ oral language use in different teaching sessions and situational constellations at university, and vice versa.
- The students’ and lecturers’ agreement and disagreement regarding general statements about language use at university.
In addition, semi-structured interviews with lecturers triangulate the survey. These interviews, which do not claim representativeness, are regarded as complementary snapshots of individual speaking habits and, in addition to the online questionnaires (above all, through the option of asking questions), provide deeper insights, for example, into the institutional (the university's) point of view, public or societal requirements (norms, standards), and requirements that students and lecturers place on themselves (personal views). Analysis of results is ongoing, but early findings suggest that students are more likely to use non-standard German in more personal contexts at university. In contrast, standard German is associated with presentations and conversations with lecturers during teaching sessions, i.e. more public contexts. Perceived politeness, respect and precise modes of expression are associated with standard German and cause switches from non-standard to standard German.

Panel affiliation

Standard language in Austria: Towards a new agenda (with language users taking the lead)


Dannerer, Monika, and Peter Mauser. 2019. Mündlichkeit an der Universität – Normen, Ein-stellungen und Angemessenheitsurteile am Beispiel der Universität Salzburg. In Lars Bülow, Ann Kathrin Fischer, and Kristina Herbert (eds.), Dimensionen des sprachlichen Raums: Va-riation – Mehrsprachigkeit – Konzeptualisierung, 385–406. Berlin: Lang.
Krammer, Lisa. (in press). Frau Professor, wo is’n die Anwesenheitslist’n? Attitudes towards the variational usage of German language in the context of university lecture. An empirical study at Viennese universities. In Alexandra N. Lenz and Mateusz Maselko (eds.), VARIATI-ONist Linguistics meets CONTACT Linguistics. Vienna: Vienna University Press.
Krammer, Lisa. (under review). Spracheinstellungen im Kontext der Kinderuni Wien. Eine empirische Studie an fünf Kinderuniversitäten.
Löffler, Heinrich. 2003. Dialektologie. Eine Einführung. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.