The Swiss German language and identity: Stereotyping between the Aargau and the Zuerich dialects

Jessica Rohr, Purdue University


Swiss German dialects contribute to the social identity of a speaker, especially on a local level (Christen, 1995). Many dialects of Switzerland are associated with a common stereotype which relates to the identity of the speakers (Rash, 2002). This research looks at these notions and investigates concepts of identity ascription and stereotyping that arise between and from the dialects of canton Aargau and canton Zurich, in Switzerland. The generation of a definition of identity for the project, drawing off existing identity theories in sociolinguistics, and stereotyping theories, allow for an investigation of how the Aargau and Zurich dialects fit into these concepts. These ideas were investigated through a language questionnaire which was distributed at three educational institutions in the Aargau and Zurich dialect speaking areas. The questionnaire included open ended questions, for the generation of qualitative data, and questions assessing the dialects on Likert-Scales, for the generation of quantitative data. From the data, it was found that identity constructs, generating an ascription of identity, and stereotypes exist between the dialect pairing. These themes contribute to aspects of 'self' and 'other' between the speakers of the Aargauer and the Zurcher dialect.




Sundquist, Purdue University.

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