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Functional Bilingualism on the Border between Austria and Slovenia

 Alja Lipavic Oštir, Sabina Jurkas

More than a thousand years the Slovene and German speaking population lived have together in the language contact regions Styria, Carinthia and Carniola. In spite of the fact that the political situation for German-Slovene language contacts became adverse in the 20th century, contacts have been kept the whole time, among other things through commuters searching for the jobs in Austria. The use of different languages and varieties at work, at home, inside families and in their environment is dis­cussed in this contribution which represents the first step in the research of language use of Slovene commuters in Austria and the presence of different varieties of the German language and Slovene language as well as the use of typical Austrian vocabulary (Austriazimus). The research is based on a survey and interviews with three groups of speakers: commuters with Slovene as L1, working in Graz (A), employees from Graz with German as L1 (B) and employees from Maribor with Slovene as L1 (C). The results of the research show that the commuters use the Graz dialect mostly passively and partly actively. The informants from group A use certain Austrian words which they had not learned in Slovene schools within the educational framework of learning German. These commut­ers are a perfect example of functional bilingualism because they connect the domain ‘work’ with German, the domain ‘family’ mainly with Slovene. The interviews with group B showed how often the dialect is used at work as well as in contacts with commuters from Slovenia. Interviews with the informants from group C and the survey showed that these informants used some of the Austrian words (Austriazismus). Their knowledge of German can be interpreted as a result of learning Ger­man and as a result of the language contacts on the border between the two countries.

Full text in German [PDF]

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