The Role of the Factors "Proximity" and "Distance" for the Evaluation of Dialects in Austria
2022-04-12, 12:00–12:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 6

The present contribution is situated in the field of language attitudinal research (Garrett 2010) and deals with individual evaluations and evaluation patterns of dialect varieties in rural Austria. The aim of this paper is to investigate the extent to which aspects of proximity or distance (in geographical and (other) social senses) influence the conceptualizations and evaluations of dialects and how these conceptualizations are argued.
The empirical base of this paper is based on interviews and recorded conversations among friends conducted at rural locations in Austria in the years 2016 to 2018. For the present paper four locations were selected, taking into account the respective extreme poles of the Austrian geographic north-south-east-west-extension. The recordings were processed and transcribed according to GAT2 guidelines (Selting et al. 2009). Subsequently, these data were analyzed using discourse analytical approaches (Spitzmüller & Warnke 2011). Aspects of analysis that are relevant in this context are strategies of verbalization and conceptualization (van Leeuwen 2008), positioning strategies (in-group vs. out-group) (Bucholtz & Hall 2006) and argumentation strategies (Wengeler 2013).
First, assuming that geographical proximity of the interviewees to the respective spaces in discussion has an impact on expressed conceptualizations, the role of the factor “geographical proximity” will be examined by investigating to what extent respondents use the factors "neighborhood" and "geographical distance" to describe sympathy or antipathy.
Second, since attitudes are dynamic (Purschke 2015) and may diverge depending on context, situation and constellation of interlocutors, this paper also examines to what extent patterns of argumentation structures regarding aspects of social proximity vary in different conversational situations (contrasting the two different survey settings: interviews and conversations among friends). The hypothesis is made that one’s evaluative attributions are expressed more directly when talking to a familiar rather when talking to an unfamiliar person.
The following questions are the focus of the paper’s underlying in-depth analyses:
- What role does the factor "proximity" in general play with regard to the verbalization of argumentative structures?
- In which ways do the different parameters of "proximity" (social and geographical in particular) overlap or differ?
- To what extent do aspects of geographical proximity or distance to individual dialect regions influence the conceptualizations and evaluations of dialects?
- Hence, in which way are stereotypes concerning dialects / groups of speakers of individual dialects linguistically constructed and argued? What strategies are used to weaken or strengthen the expressed facts?


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