Interplay of accommodation and place loyalty
2022-04-13, 15:00–15:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 1

The contribution focuses on Samnaun, a small village located in the extreme east of Switzerland, bordering on the Austrian federal state Tyrol, whose inhabitants have been described as Bavarian dialect speakers in literature for nearly 100 years (since Gröger 1924). As Samnaun is a region thriving with tourism (especially during winter) and a customs enclave, it represents an attractive holiday destination primarily for tourists from German-speaking Switzerland, who speak an Alemannic variety. Thus, we are dealing with a situation where a linguistic minority (Samnaun’s inhabitants, 734 persons, whereof 590 Swiss citizens, cf. Gemeinde Samnaun 2020) experiences frequent contact situations (both face-to-face and mass media communication) with the linguistic majority, i.e. people from German-speaking Alemannic Switzerland. Facing this situation of dialect contact we can hypothesize (short-term or long-term) accommodation (cf. e.g. Trudgill 1986, Giles et al. 1991, Giles 2001; and for Samnaun: Gabriel 1985: 47, Gemeinde Samnaun n.d.).
In this contribution, I talk about the interplay of attitudinal factors (like place loyalty) and accommodation behaviour of Samnaun’s inhabitants. The paper is based on data from a recent study, in which I examine the local language situation, focusing on the different varieties spoken by the inhabitants on the one hand (local dialect, variety spoken with Alemannic dialect speaker, variety spoken with Austrian speaker, Standard German) and on language attitudes and questions of place loyalty/sense of belonging on the other hand. Methodologically, the study reflects recent variational linguistic projects in the German-speaking area (as e.g. DiÖ, cf. Lenz 2018, and REDE, cf. Ganswindt et al. 2015), but provides adaptations to the specific language situation in Samnaun.
In the contribution’s first part, I discuss the accommodation behaviour the informants show towards the Alemannic interviewer and their use of local dialect gathered by language production experiments, translation tasks and conversations among friends. Preliminary results show 1) short-term accommodation to an Alemannic variety when speaking to Alemannic dialect speakers and 2) a stable Bavarian local dialect for the communication between Samnaun’s inhabitants and thus no signs of long-term accommodation or a large number of mixture phenomena despite the minority status of the Bavarian dialect in German-speaking Switzerland.
In the second part of the contribution I will discuss attitudinal data from guided interviews and conversations among friends (“Freundesgespräche”). Assuming that «accommodation may […] become permanent, […] if attitudinal factors are favourable» (Trudgill 1986: 39), attitudes seem to be unfavourable in Samnaun. I focus on the national border’s impact on attitudes and the role of place and dialect loyalty as well as the sense of belonging (to Switzerland or Austria) for Samnaun’s inhabitants. I show how language use and attitudinal factors (and the border factor) interplay for this specific linguistic minority.


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