Linguistik online 7, 3/00

On the Description of National Varieties: 
Examples from (German and Austrian) German and (English and American) English


1 Preliminaries

The following contribution wants to give a brief survey of the recent literature in national varieties of German and English and point at the various aspects that must be taken into account when national varieties are described, some of which are still rather neglected. For illustration I will present examples from the two national varieties of English and the two national varieties of German that I am most familiar with, viz. English English and American English (hereby I mean US English), German German and Austrian German. (For information on other English national varieties cf. Barnickel 1982, Trudgill/Hannah 1994, Hansen/Carls/Lucko 1996; currently the best book on German national varieties is the one by Ulrich Ammon 1995.) Of course, the relationship between the two English national varieties is not completely comparable to the two German national varieties: first of all because of the geographical discontiguity, then because of the speech communities' different attitudes toward their national varieties, and, as will be seen, also due to other extralinguistic conditions. In general, I have restricted myself to discussing the recent literature only, save occasionally where I considered it appropriate to refer to older works. The reason for this is that, in contrast to earlier decades, the existence of national varieties (and their function as identity factors [cf. Görlach 1997]) seems to be acknowledged nowadays by a majority of linguists, whereas they sometimes were denied earlier on. Consequently, lengthy discussions of superseded views are superfluous.

Many linguists see German, English, French and other languages as pluricentric languages, i.e. languages with not only one model center, but several model centers. It can be doubted whether the terms center and -centric are a good choice (what are the respective centers?), but as long as everybody knows what is meant by the terms, they can be accepted. (A very good collection of survey articles dealing with the pluricentricity of several languages around the world is presented by Clyne 1992a.) However, it is still often the case that one nation is considered to have the more important center (cf. also the criticism in Clyne 1992b) with the other national varieties regarded as deviant from it. We could then speak of pluricentricity, but at the same time also of mononormativity. Most of the time, the "normative" center is the economically more important one (e.g. Germany vs. Austria), in other cases it is the country where the language originally came from (e.g. England vs. America). Yet English English and German German must be as carefully described in its specifities as other national varieties (cf. also Ammon 1995 and Algeo 1988a: 3). The definition of Austrian German or American English by their deviation from German German and English English is perceivable in dictionary markings, when, for instance, Jänner 'January' is marked as Austrian German, but Januar not as German German, or when the pronunciation of <z> as /zi:/ is marked as US usage, but the pronunciation /zed/ not as English English usage. It is also noteworthy that there exist dictionaries of Austriacisms and Helvetisms, but there are no dictionaries of Teutonisms/Germanicisms (cf. Ammon 1994). In the English-speaking world, a similar situation could be observed for a long time, but for a few years a dictionary of Briticisms has been in preparation (cf. Algeo 1989). On the other hand, Volume 5 of the Cambridge History of the English Language (Burchfield 1994), dedicated to varieties of English, does not make an exception in the unbalanced treatment of national varieties. The chapters are entitled "English in Scotland," "English in Wales," and "English in Ireland;" in other words there is no chapter on the national variety of England, but only to England's regional dialects. In general, the notion of national varieties must not be mixed up with the one of regional varieties. In addition, it should be mentioned that after the unification of the two Germanies, linguistic differences (but regional ones!) still exist—especially as concerns communicative structures/language use (cf. Stevenson 1993 and 1997: 234ff., Stevenson/Theobald 2000). It would be interesting to analyze whether these west-east differences are more salient than the north-south differences of Germany or the west-east differences in Austria. However, such problems shall not further be dealt with in the following sections.

In contrast to regional varieties, national varieties are entities within artificial boundaries. Therefore they need be seen on the level of a (normative) national standard. But the term standard leads us to new definitory problems. The concept of standard variety is one of the most debated concepts in sociolinguistics. Bussmann (1996: 451f.) defines it as "the historically legitimated, panregional, oral and written language form of the social middle or upper class" and explains that it is "subject to extensive normalization (especially in the realm of grammar, pronunciation, and spelling)." For Dittmar (1997: 201) standard variety can be characterized as written variety, codified, supraregional in use and acceptance, preferred in institutional contexts and official situations, prestigious, taught in school, and hardly occurring in everyday speech in its idealized form. The latest work within the German-speaking context, as to my knowledge, is the empirical study by Huesmann. For her, who is elaborating Ammon's (1987: 327ff.) definition, a language form is standard (cf. Huesmann 1998: 34)

1. if at least two of the following elementary features apply

2. it shows additional empirical features like It should be added, however, that, unlike Huesmann in her work, more and more linguists seem to posit from two sorts of standard, viz. (a) a formal one - codified, prescribed by recognized authorities, relatively homogeneous, used in public situations (particularly monologs) - and (b) an informal one - more subjective, more flexible, part of a standard-nonstandard continuum, basically used in private dialogs, all in all: a pluralistic concept (cf. Wolfram/Schilling-Estes 1998: 9ff., 281; Moser 1999: 16ff.). In Rudolf Muhr's terminology (1987a: 20) for Austrian German an outer standard ("Standard nach außen") is distinguished from an inner standard ("Standard nach innen"). For English national varieties Hansen/Carls/Lucko (1996: 28) make the distinction between "an official standard variety," which is orientated toward one of the two main norms (English English or American English) and "an inofficial standard variety" with potentially more national features. The LGSWE (1999: 18) differentiates between "standard" English, "standard English", and standard spoken English: "For written registers, we adopt an implicit, descriptive approach to characterize 'standard' English, in that we describe the grammatical forms and patterns actually used in published texts (as opposed to prescribing explicitly the forms that should be used in 'standard English'). [...] we define standard spoken English as including grammatical characteristics shared widely across dialects, excluding those variants restricted to local or limited social/regional varieties." A number of ideas of what standard English is and is not is collected by Bex/Watts (1999).

2 Differences in the Language System

Describing the characteristics of a national standard/variety can turn out to be a problem particularly in two cases:

(1) when searching for linguistic features absent in other national varieties
(2) when searching for linguistic features present in all areas of the respective nation

Ad (1): Linguists searching for exclusive features of a national variety will hardly be successful. The focus should rather be on statistical features and differences in the connotations of morphemes, including stylistic connotations. The German term Erdäpfel 'potatoes' might serve as an example here. Whereas some linguists have seen this term as an Austriacism, others have claimed that the term would equally be known in Bavaria; moreover, not all Austrians would use it. The difference, however, is that Erdäpfel is the standard term in Austria and as such also occurs in written texts as the normal/unmarked word, whereas in Bavaria the term is restricted to non-standard, non-written style. Another instance is the name for the first month of the year. The Austrian Standard German [ASG] term is Jänner, the German Standard German [GSG] - and also the usual Southern German - term is Januar. Some dialectologists have again pointed out the intersection with Bavaria, after some elderly speakers who also knew the form Jänner had been met in rural areas of Bavaria. Here one would have to formulate a similar objection as above. It is the search for exclusive features - in the sense that all members of a particular (national) community of speakers use a specific form and no members of other (national) communities ever use it - which makes some linguists ignore the existence of national varieties. It is surprising that even Trudgill occasionally seems to doubt the distinctiveness of national varieties for this lack of exclusivity [cf. Trudgill 1995: 5], although he normally underlines that one basically has to focus on statistical features, or statistical differences. What is meant by statistical features? An example from English: German students of English learn that the British say autumn and that the Americans say fall. Actually, both variants can be found in both varieties. And yet there are differences. In the United States autumn is the more sophisticated term, whereas fall is the less marked one; in Britain it is just the other way around. In all these cases we can speak of group-preferential, or better: nation-preferential, forms, i.e. the variants are distributed across both countries, but members of one nation are more likely to use the form than members of the other nation (cf. also Esser 1993). However, when we analyze statistical differences, it should really be shown that the results that the studies yield are truly differences due to the informants' nationality. This means that it should be cross-checked whether other sociolinguistic variables such as sex/gender, profession, age etc. are not more salient. In other words: in many studies the only criterion used in analyzing a corpus is the nationality. If the figures do not differ to a relatively high degree, we should also see whether an analysis according to sex/gender, profession, age etc. shows more prominent differences. (This, by the way, is a mistake also made in many gender studies.)

Ad (2): This method shows why national varieties must not be considered a mere special instance of a regional variety. As a matter of fact, regional varieties and national varieties seldom coincide. (To verify this it suffices to evaluate the fifty-four maps from the first volume of Eichhoff's [] linguistic atlas on the German Umgangssprache (colloquial German) and to discover that only on twelve maps do we encounter cases where the German-Austrian political border also represents a linguistic border.) Since regional varieties seem to have more impact on the speech of an individual, national varieties cannot be seen as true systems of active language use (unless maybe in official or formal texts). National varieties do not have to do with what is (actively) used all over the country, but they consist of what is (passively) accepted and intelligible all over the country (in Ammon's terminology: Gebrauchsbereich vs. Geltungsbereich). For Austrian German, let us now look at the name of the second month of the year, for which two variants are known, viz. Februar (all over the country) and Feber (basically not in the western parts of the country, but occasionally in official nation-wide news programs). By the second item nation-exclusive usage can be defined negatively. The essential aspect is not that all the members of the nation use a certain variant, but that speakers from other nations do not use this form. To take an example from American English: Not every American would use you guys for addressing more than one person (regardless of their sexes), but it is safe to say that no speaker of English English will use this expression. It should be added that "[a]s consciousness about these forms is raised, some of the forms begin to serve as symbolic markes of regional or social [or national; J.G.] group identity. Sometimes they even form the basis of the stereotypes of particular regional and ethnic dialects which are found in popular caricatures" (Wolfram/Schilling-Estes 1998: 241). (In order to illustrate the difference between regional and national varieties it would of course be more appropriate to focus on differences between geographically contiguous areas such as American English and Canadian English.)

The linguistic features commonly dealt with in manuals and studies are phonology, grammar/morphosyntax, and lexis. The lexicon is the field best investigated - for obvious reasons: corpora can be gathered and illustrated in a fairly easy way. For American vs. British/English English, differences are enumerated in every schoolbook. A conversation can, however, take an embarassing turn when so-called "false friends" are involved like pants, which means 'trousers' in American English and 'underpants' in English English, or the word homely, which in English English means 'domestic,' in American English 'ugly,' or jelly, which Americans use where the English say jam and which the English use where the Americans say jello (for further instances cf. Trudgill/Hannah 1994: 87ff.). Furthermore, there are instances of "false friends" between Austrian Standard German and German Standard German as well: Pfusch in Austrian German means 'illicit work,' in German German 'bad work,' a Sessel for a German is always upholstered, for an Austrian it is the even more frequent synonym for Stuhl 'chair.' It should be kept in mind, though, that American particularities are often known to Brits from the world of American movies. As far as Austrian German is concerned, the situation is slightly different. It has been pointed out by some linguists that the number of lexical differences is negligible, because so many technical terms are due to the specific national culture and administration and are consequently not comparable. In contrast, other linguists have been trying to show that the amount of differences is still large enough, even without taking the culture-specific words into account (cf. Ammon 1995 and also Grzega 1999b). The reason is that, as already mentioned above, linguists of the first group overlooked the stylistic and connotative differences of many words: Obmann 'president of an association' is old-fashioned in German German, but totally neutral in Austrian German, the same holds true for outrieren 'to exaggerate [e.g. as actress].' Moreover, I am now becoming more and more convinced that the culture-specific vocabulary (e.g. AmE secretary of state 'minister for foreign affairs,' AmE caucus 'a party's conference before presidential elections,' ASG Landeshauptmann 'prime minister of a Bundesland,' ASG Palatschinken 'cf. French crêpe; [much thinner than a German Pfannkuchen]') should be included in the description of a national variety. To support my argument, I want to quote a passage from an article by Polenz (1996: 207), which seems more and more important to me: "Soziopragmatisch spielen solche sprachlichen Sachspezifika (wie auch bei fremden Sprachen) im varietäts-/sprachübergreifenden Alltagswissen als Schibboleths für Landeskolorit eine bedeutende Rolle, gerade weil man mangels Alternativbenennung sie als erste Elemente einer anderen Varietät/Sprache lernen muß/will und benutzt, nicht als Entlehnungen, sondern als 'Exotica', sogar als erste Signale der sprachlichen Anpassung im Gebiet der fremden Varietät/Sprache. Auch bleiben solche alternativelosen Wörter nach dem (z.T. literarischen) Üblichwerden in der eigenen Varietät/Sprache oft noch recht lange stark fremd-regional/-national konnotiert." In other words, such culture-specific terms simply are among the most salient characteristic features of a national variety. Among lexical questions are questions of word-formation, and in this context I think of productive (or at least: frequent, prominent) word-formation processes. Some very rough impressions are given by Trudgill/Hannah (1994: 59, 77), who have observed, for example, that the suffixes -ify and -ize are more productive in the US than in England. In Austrian German, for example, the suffix -ieren is more frequent then in German German: strichlieren vs. stricheln 'to hatch,' sich fadisieren (from fad 'bored') vs. sich langweilen 'to feel bored,' röntgenisieren vs. röntgen 'to x-ray.' Besides, compounds like SPÖ-Kärnten-Chef are very frequent in the Austrian press, while Germans seem to prefer Chef der SPÖ Kärnten or Chef der Kärntner SPÖ
'leader of the Carinthian SPÖ (party).' Another feature typical of Austrian German compounding is the so-called "Fugen-s," where German German normally shows -Ø- or -e-: Zugsunglück vs. Zugunglück 'train crash,' Schweinsschnitzel vs. Schweineschnitzel 'pork chop' etc. Differences also concern abbreviations, which are very wide-spread, particularly in Austrian newspaper style. It includes, for example, a phenomenon that could be termed "short forms of short forms:" Dipl.-Ing. > DI 'person with a university diploma in engineering,' SPÖ > SP > S 'Austria's party of social democrats,' d.h. > dh. 'that is' (cf. Grzega 1999a: 260f.). Abbreviations and short forms can easily serve as in-group markers - especially for those national varieties that are not regarded as the "normative" ones.

As to phonology, it is relatively difficult to describe standard differences especially (1) when there is no codex as, for instance, for American English, (2) since there never seems to be an "a-regional" accent. Despite the fact that, in contrast to England's Received Pronunciation, there is no generally accepted regionless accent (cf. Trudgill/Hannah 1994: 37), we can observe a tendency to consider what is referred to as General American the non-marked pronunciation in the US, and yet there are many regional differences within it. Trudgill/Hannah (1994: 6) present a possible approach of grouping the various national varieties of English according to a series of phonetic isoglosses. And the German-speaking countries show basically similar divergences. Notwithstanding this lack of exclusiveness and unity, pronunciation is probably the most important feature in perceiving national varieties. Some basic differences between General American and the BBC English of Britain are the pronunciation of <a> as "flat" before s, f, th, n, m in words like fast, staff, path, dance), [u:] instead of [ju:] after dental or alveolar consonants (e.g. student, new), the general usage of "dark l" (e.g. miller, i.e. not only after "dark consonants" like in all); besides, General American is a rhotic accent, i.e. an accent where speakers pronounce non-prevocalic r's; finally certain items like garage (AmE French-like pronunciation, EngE already Anglicized pronunciation) or ate (AmE with diphthong, EngE with monophthong) (for further examples cf. Hansen/Carls/Lucko 1996: 118ff.). For the German-speaking nations, the situation is different, since codified pronunciation (the so-called "Siebsche Aussprache") is not only accepted in Germany, but basically also in Austria and the other German-speaking countries except for certain national/regional particularities. To name but a few exceptions: Portier (GSG French-like pronunciation, ASG second syllable pronounced like in Bier 'beer'), Chef 'boss' (ASG with long e, GSG with short e), Giraffe (ASG pronunciation as if written <Schiraffe>); in Austrian German the stress is on the second syllable in the words Sakko, Nugat, Pingpong, in German German on the first (for further examples cf. Ammon 1995: 150ff.). For all varieties mentioned, two points need be underlined again: (1) standard pronunciation differences fall in the area of the passively accepted nation-wide features, not the actively used nation-wide features; (2) apart from the limited number of exclusive features there is a much higher number of statistical divergences. For words like Standard, Stil, Statistik, for instance, the two pronunciations st as in standard German Fenster and st as in standard German Stuhl exist both in Austrian and German German (in contrast to Clyne's statement [1992c: 125]); but the former is clearly more preferred in Austria than in Germany. It is equally worth noting that Austrians, more than Germans, aim at reproducing the original pronunciation of proper names and English words in general, e.g. Taiwan, Jumbo Jet, or Endspurt 'final spurt.'

At this point, mention can be made of another sector of possible divergences: spelling, including punctuation. Within the German-speaking (or German-writing) countries such differences are very limited. The deletion of periods in some Austrian abbreviations has already been noted. As to American and British spelling, differences like <-or> and <-our> are well known. As a kind of graphic shibboleths, informal American spellings like <tonite> and <thru> can be pointed out. As far as punctuation is concerned, British newspapers reveal their origin by the spelling <Mr>, whereas American ones use <Mr.>. Furthermore, Americans tend to put closing quotes after punctuation marks (...," ...) - as I do in this article -, whereas the English put them before punctuation marks (...", ...). It is interesting to observe that there even seem to be national types of handwriting. The divergence in Austrians' and Germans' handwriting is explainable by the fact that the systems of the italic script that students learn at primary school are different, in the US more and more people tend to write in capital letters only.

The branch of grammar has been concentrated on much more rarely. The cause for this is (1) the scarcity of differences, (2) the lack of sufficient data collection. A valuable exception is the recently published LGSWE, the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, which is based on a huge corpus of English/British and American written and spoken texts. Similar corpora would be welcome for other English national varieties, and they are still absent for the national varieties of German. Especially between national varieties of English (maybe due to its strongly analytical and sometimes isolating character), morphosyntactical differences are very small in number, and if they exist they are mostly of stylistic or quantitative nature (cf. below, and also Leitner 1992: 219, Algeo 1988: 3). The LGSWE occasionally directly contrasts British and American English. On p. 462f., for example, it is stated that in news programs Americans use much fewer perfect forms than the British; it is unfortunate, though, that (1) it is ignored that sometimes the statistical differences are so marginal that other sociolinguistic variables could have had a greater impact and that (2) the morphosyntactical categories are seen in isolation, i.e. without the context they occur in (cf. the statements on the perfect in news on p. 462f.). Aside from that, one might think of a certain American preference for weak past forms like burned or leaped, or the use of gotten in the sense of 'received,' or the different subject-verb agreement in cases like AmE the government says... vs. BrE the government say... (for further examples cf. also Hansen/Carls/Lucko 1996: 128ff. and, for a direct contrast between English English and North American English, Trudgill/Hannah 1994: 56ff., Algeo 1988a). As regards Austrian German morphosyntax vs. German German morphosyntax we might think of gender differences such as ASG das Brösel (neutr.) vs. GSG der Brösel (masc.) 'crumble,' ASG das/die Brezel (neutr. or fem.) vs. GSG die Brezel (always fem.) 'pretzel,' or different plural formations ASG Cremes/Cremen vs. GSG only Cremes 'cream,' ASG Möser vs. GSG Moose 'mosses' (for further examples cf. Ammon 1995: 175ff. and the relevant articles in Wiesinger 1988).

An area that is quite often ignored or at least neglected are collocations, i.e. the conditions of syntactic-semantic grammaticality, or acceptability. For Austrian German, the standard volume edited by Wiesinger (1988) does not reserve any extra article for idiomaticity and collocations; a few instances are mentioned in Ebner's (1988) contribution, though, under Chapter 4, e.g. ASG das Auslangen finden vs. GSG auskommen 'to make end's meet' or ASG im Krankenstand sein vs. GSG krank gemeldet sein 'to have rung in sick.' Further examples are given by Ammon (1995: 172f.). I list some more items in my articles (cf. Grzega 1997 and 2000), but a sufficient and broadly based study on this matter is still a desideratum. A few examples shall suffice here: ASG jemanden kündigen (with accusative case) vs. GSG jemandem kündigen (with dative case) 'to give sb notice' (the ASG construction, however, is now occasionally heard on German news programs [as a technical term?]), ASG am Programm vs. auf dem Programm 'on the program,' ASG auf etwas vergessen vs. GSG etwas vergessen 'to forget sth.' Moreover, potential false friends may be seen in phrases like der blaue Minister, literally 'the blue minister,' which in Austrian German is a common expression for 'minister of the FPÖ (party),' whereas in Germans may interpret the phrase as 'the drunken minister.' For American English some characteristics in contrast to English English are presented by Hansen/Carls/Lucko (1996: 129f.) and they are also hidden in the grammar chapter in Trudgill/Hannah (1994: 56ff.): AmE a knock on the door vs. EngE a knock at the door, AmE in the street/on the street vs. EngE in the street, AmE different than/from vs. EngE different from/to, AmE around the corner vs. EngE round the corner.

Still another type of differences should be mentioned, namely features that, like morphosyntactical features, are less frequently studied due to the difficulty of pinning them down: prosodic features, i.e. different intonation patterns and the like. For instance, Germans will have the feeling that Austrian news anchorpersons talk/read in a style that could be termed "nonchalant."

3 Differences in Language Use

The areas of collocation and prosody are on the borderline between language system and language use. Some will say that every statistical difference is a difference in language use and not a difference in the language system. This is totally acceptable. Nevertheless, in this article I would like the term language use to be understood as encompassing everything that goes beyond the unit of the single word. While the sectors of the language system according to this definition appear relatively well-studied, the area of language use is not, especially as regards the national varieties of English (cf. the elementary books by Barnickel 1982, Trudgill/Hannah 1994, Hansen/Carls/Lucko 1996, which in my viewpoint do not cover the aspects of language use to a satisfying degree - cf. morphosyntactical exceptions under section 2) . However, national varieties can also be defined on pragmatical features, which is now slowly being recognized by at least by some German-speaking linguists, as will be illustrated below. As far as the definition of pragmatics is concerned, I do not include phraseologisms or idioms here. These should be regarded as lexical units simply consisting of several elements (e.g. AmE the line is busy vs. EngE the phone is engaged). Pragmatics has no clear-cut boundaries and is described by Bussmann (1996: 374) as "a subdiscipline [...] that studies the relationship between natural expressions and their use in specific situations. [....] In British-American linguistics, the term 'pragmatics' has only been in use for a relatively short time; this area was previously subsumed under the term 'sociolinguistics'. [....] pragmatics deals with with the function of linguistic utterances and the propositions that are expressed by them, depending upon their use in specific situations. [....] In the early 1970s, pragmatics became almost exclusively identified with speech act theory. Later it was concerned above all with empirical studies in conversational analysis, drawing on Grice's [...] maxims of conversation." Aspects that German-speaking linguists most often, if at all, allude to in this context are greetings, leave-taking terms, and terms of address (cf. Ammon 1995: 176ff., 280f., or Moser 1999, 18). In addition, Ammon (1995: 177, 280) mentions differences in military commands. For Austrian German a few articles have also been contributed by Muhr (e.g. 1987a, 1987b, 1987c, 1993). Ebner (1988) includes various examples under section 4 of his article in Wiesinger's (1988) basic volume. Some examples from formal letters are illustrated by Clyne (1984: 121). I collected some examples for the aforementioned aspects as well as for other domains such as school jargon, short forms, journalistic style, and advertisement style (cf. Grzega 1997: ). If we turn to address terms, people with experience in both American and English English will maybe get the impression of a more frequent use of sir and madam. In service encounters elderly American women will address younger customers by dear or hon', elderly English women will use dear, love or pet; in Britain you will be greeted by How are you?, in the United States it is not unusual to hear How are you today?. In my view, it stands to reason that national varieties also differ in what sociolinguists commonly call directness (although the term is sometimes not unjustly criticized for its lack of objectivity [cf. Wierzbicka 1991]) - and thus politeness. It is the difference in politeness strategies that probably incites stereotypes at the most.

Taken in a very wide sense, pragmatics, if defined as the analysis of language use, also encompasses questions concerning the use of styles and style-shifts. The choice of styles and style-shifts can, in my view, very well serve as a descriptor of differences between national varieties. To be more blunt, if we accept that the dichotomy standard-dialect is a scalar one, a continuum as it were, and if we accept that national varieties have basically to be seen on the level of formal situations, then we may observe that the number of variants applicable, or acceptable, in a "standard" situation may be higher in one national variety than in another. In other words: what is still considered standard in one national variety may already be considered non-standard in another. The difficulty lies of course in finding an appropriate method for objective observations and statements.

On another occasion I have already tried to point out a feature that I call "nonchalance" (cf. Grzega 1999a: 260; Grzega 2000: 60 et passim). By this term I refer to the relatively high susceptibility for what Germans would regard as "colloquialisms" in formal situations (including written style). On Austrian TV news program you may, for example, hear Häuslbauen in lieu of the more formal Hausbauen 'building a home' or Tschechen-Kronen instead of tschechische Kronen 'Czech crowns (currency).' Also of note, even in Austrian quality news magazines such as NEWS (pseudo-)quotations regularly include spoken elements, whereas these are generally eliminated in the German German press. An example: the colloquial nix for nichts 'nothing' is kept in an interview with an FPÖ party member in NEWS 21/2000 (p. 18). Likewise, the colloquial i for ich.'I' occurs three times in (pseudo-)quotations on p. 242 of the same edition. At present, I am preparing an analysis of style-shifting on the basis of a corpus of political TV discussions. I have chosen political discussions, since these represent formal situations, i.e. situations where "standard speech" is normally expected. (The advantage of TV discussions is dealt with by Löffler 1983.) Such analysis cannot be done in the scope of this paper, but must be reserved for a separate study, since it requires also that the theoretical framework be discussed to some extent. Moser, too, briefly sheds light on style-choosing and style-shifting and its use as a stylistic device in Austrian literature (1999: 17): "wenn jemand in eine standardsprachliche Erklärung einen dialektnäheren Satz einflicht, so kann das etwa heißen, 'das sage ich privat' oder erlaube mir diese Zwischenbemerkung', es kann aber auch ein Signal für stärkere emotionale Beteiligung sein, es kann schließlich - je nach Kontext - auch Spott und Sarkasmus zum Ausdruck bringen. Der Wechsel in Richtung Dialekt kann Unsicherheit signalisieren, der umgekehrte Wechsel kann darauf hindeuten, daß der Sprecher den Sachverhalt in allgemeine Zusammenhänge einbauen will oder den Versuch unternimmt, inhaltliche Schwächen mit Pathos zuzudecken. Gerade diese Möglichkeiten sind seit Johann Nepomuk Nestroy in der österreichischen Literatur immer wieder aufgespürt und als Darstellungsmittel genutzt worden". I am not convinced, though, that Moser is entirely right when he (1999: 16) describes formal Austrian German standard as public and monolog-like and informal Austrian German standard as private and dialog-like. Empirical studies, such as the study of TV discussions, will enlighten presumable national divergences in the area of style-shifts. Let us have a look at some statements by the British linguist Durrell, who juxtaposes the structure of linguistic variation in England and Germany: "In der Praxis können die meisten Engländer ihren Sprachgebrauch je nach Situation entlang diesem Kontinuum [i.e. between strongly regional pronunciation and Received Pronunciation] variieren. Dieses "style shifting" [...], d.h. die Variation um einen individuell gesetzten Pol im Kontinuum ist typisch für das Sprachverhalten in England" (1995: 418). And later (1995: 419f.): "In Deutschland gilt jedoch eine normgerechte Aussprache keineswegs als exklusiver Besitz einer klar definierbaren sozialen Gruppe - auch Hochsprachesprecher verwenden sie nicht ausschließlich oder konsequent in allen Registers [sic!]. Von vielen werden ja Registerunterschiede innerhalb der Hochsprache, etwa im Alltagsgespräch, nicht anerkannt, denn die damit verbundenen Abweichungen von der vorgeschriebenen Norm werden nicht mehr als echtes Hochdeutsch akzeptiert [....] In Deutschland haben wir es [...] in weiten Gebieten nicht mit 'style shifting' um einen sprachlichen Variantenpol zu tun, sondern [...] mit 'dialect switching' zwischen zwei fokussierten Varietäten." The easy style-shifting that Durrell observes for Britain is according to my experience also perceivable in the United States. As to German, it was a good idea of Durrell to use linguistic hedges like "vielen" and "in weiten Gebieten," thus avoiding false generalizations. What Durrell describes is to a great extent applicable to Northern Germany, but certainly not to Austria; and Southern Germany plays a particular rôle, too. My personal impression, which - as I have said - is not founded on empirical results yet, is as follows. It was already mentioned that realizations of a variable can be, at least vaguely, located on a standard-nonstandard continuum, e.g.
wir 'we': realizations: wir - mir - me(r)
or haben 'have:'
realizations: hab(e)n - habm - ham - hom
or nicht 'not:'
realizations: nicht - nich - net
The initial stage of my studies suggests that the span of variants acceptable in a formal situation, such as a televised studio discussion, is larger in Austrian German than in German German. In other words: on a standard-dialect continuum the standard variety takes more space in Austria than in Germany.

For American English, the subject of style and style-shifting may turn out to be a rather complicated matter, simply because due to North America's geographical extension and the high number of ethnic groups styles and style-shifiting seem much more varied to me than in the two German-speaking countries investigated. But there are some attempts to draw pictures on a national basis, such as Algeo's study (1988b) on the different use of question tags between British English and American English. The LGSWE as well offers examples of stylistic differences. Style-shifts, on the other hand, have so far been neglected on the national level. It might be worth investigating whether there are at least indicators of such differences.

There are still other possible types of studies which I consider of paramount importance in determining national differences in language use, but which have so far largely been neglected, namely in-depth analyses of specific text types or types of discourse, especially - though not exclusively - formal ones, e.g.:
(a) the language of the press (for some aspects cf. e.g. Viereck 1980 and Grzega 1999a for German; for English Quirk et al. [1985: 19] think that "on subject matter not of obviously localized interest [...] one can frequently go on for page after page without encountering a feature [of grammar or vocabulary] which would identify the English as belonging to one of the national standards"),
(b) the language of news programs (for some aspects cf. Grzega 2000 for German),
(c) parliamentary language (one should think of the highly codified and fossilized terms and phrases in the British parliament [cf. Ilbert 1950]),
(d) language in commercials and advertisements
Besides, certain vocabulary sectors/registers should be dealt with as well as the influence of other languages on a certain national variety, such as English on German varieties (cf. e.g. Viereck 1980 and Grzega [in print]).

4 Conclusion

To sum up my contribution, I would like to briefly mention my main considerations on describing national standards again:
The majority of national language differences will be of statistical nature. But statistical differences must be salient ones; otherwise different factors suggest themselves as more important.
For the description of national standards, it is crucial what language features are passively accepted all over the country, and not what is actively used all over the country.

Several aspects of language, particularly of language use, have still remained rather untouched among linguists, such as collocation, intonation, styles, and style-shifting. It is disappointing that certain modern survey books and introductory works continue to ignore such features, which, after all, have an important share in constituing a national variety.

For a close we may briefly entice the question whether national varieties of English and German are on the way of converging or on the way of diverging. While lexis and syntax of national varieties are converging (at least in their written forms), pronunciation is diverging (cf. Görlach 1997: 30) and will remain the most salient feature in the recognition of national varieties although Görlach (1997: 30) thinks that "such national shibboleths will not necessarily be cultivated." As to German German and Austrian German diachronic observations are low in number, but I have the impression that the aforementioned tendencies are discernable here as well. This is not astonishing if we keep in mind that German TV is now easily available in Austria and vice versa or German youth magazines like BRAVO are also very popular in Austria - in short: thanks to the mass media both varieties can easily bridge national borders. This means that it is not only the case that German German influences Austrian German, but also Austrian German features may enter in German German (cf. the construction jemanden kündigen mentioned above).


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