The modern Alemannic vernacular in and around Zurich
The “German”-speaking part of Switzerland (almost two thirds of the population) is notorious for its diglossia. The written language is Standard German with few regional specialties, the everyday language is an Alemannic dialect; each village has its own. In recent years, there is a koineization process going on, with a gravitation center around Zurich. The dialects are becoming more similar to each other than they used to be. So, it may now be justified to summarize them as “Swiss German”, although there is no uniform language to expect over the next decades. Maybe the continuing diversity and rapid change are some of the reasons why these dialects have seldom been described to people unfamiliar with either one of them or at least Standard German. Few of the existing works make use of modern linguistic devices like IPA either.
The present booklet shall provide a concise overview of Swiss German as it is spoken today in the Zurich area. It covers phonology, morphology, the TAM and Aktionsart system, and syntax.
A recently recorded text is included, too. In the course of the chapters, some peculiarities are presented that haven’t appeared in the literature so far: e. g., the satellite-framed character of the language is the base of the phenomenon of multi-valent verbs, and in connection with the famous reduplicative verb construction, which is unique to Alemannic, it accounts for the so-called “absentive” in Germanic languages.
ISBN 9783895864971. 87pp. Languages of the World/Materials 462. 2006.