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Riehl, Claudia Maria ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5591-2889 (2015): Language attrition, language contact, and the concept of relic variety: the case of Barossa German. In: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Vol. 236: pp. 1-33 [PDF, 323kB]


This article theorizes on the relation between individual and societal language loss. In this context, the notion of relic variety will be introduced, describing a setting where a language is spoken by a very small number of speakers who live isolated from the main speech community and have not acquired literacy in their L1. The article focuses on attrition phenomena in a specific relic variety, i.e. Barossa German, a German-speaking enclave in South Australia. It analyses phenomena caused by lack of usage (hesitation phenomena, code-switching, semantic restructuring) as well as reduction processes, namely of the German case system. The results of the analysis demonstrate that in contrast to canonical attrition settings, in a relic variety morphological markers are only retained in constructions that had been either entrenched early in the acquisition processes or are very frequently used. It will be argued that the main factors influencing the reduction process are the variety of input, a decrease of normativity and the absence of a written variety.

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