[Ltru] Alemanic & Swiss German
duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
Mon Dec 4 08:05:11 CET 2006
At 02:26 06/12/01, Peter Constable wrote:
>Martin$Bc`QT(B comment is somewhat vague: varieties spoken on either side of the border are very similar, et $Bc`WB(Bs soon as you cross the border it$Bc`QT(B very clearly no longer Swiss German$Bc`Y(B Does that mean that what is spoken across the border is clearly a different language,
German very much is a language continuum. There are more
contiuous parts and less continuous parts. In terms of the
traditional language heritage (grammar, words used for
traditional concepts such as agriculture, traditional
food,...), country borders are not terribly huge
discontinuities. This is different for official language
(even if integrated into everyday dialects) and many more
modern concepts, where language boundaries can result in
a dramatic switch in vocabulary.
I don't know what exactly are the criteria for labeling
something a 'language' in Ethnologue or iso-639-1/2/3.
I just know that cutting a continuum into various languages,
even if done with the best intention, will always be imperfect,
and that a criterium of "mutual (un-)intellegibility" isn't
sufficient to cut a continuum into various languages in
an unambiguous way.
>or that the label $Bc`W4(Bwiss German$Bc`Y(Bis clearly not used?
The label 'Swiss German' is clearly not used for anything
except exactly the German dialects spoken in Switzerland.
Whether by somebody's definition, the German dialects spoken
in Switzerland are considered a language, or several languages
or part of a language, or, as the Ethnologue seems to do,
split into at least two languages, each of which also
encompasses German dialects not spoken in Switzerland,
is a separate question.
#-#-# Martin J. Du"rst, Assoc. Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
#-#-# http://www.sw.it.aoyama.ac.jp mailto:duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
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