Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
An Introduction to Variation in German
Academic Year
Semester 1
(Normally) Eligibility for entry to Level 2 German: pre-requisite for GE30420
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 1 hour per week
Lecture 1 hour per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  60%
Semester Assessment Essay c.1,500 words (30%); seminar presentation (10%).  Continuous Assessment:  40%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

read phonetic and phonemic transcriptions in IPA and will be able to make phonetic and phonemic transcriptions of German. They will be familiar with basic phonetic and phonological categories and will have a better understanding of the structure of the German sound system. They will also be aware of variation in German and be able to relate it to its extra-linguistic correlates and will be able to identify and characterise major regional/situative varieties of German. By writing an essay on a topic not covered in class, the students will learn how to carry out independent research. In addition they will learn to analyse what they have read, to structure it cohesively and coherently and to express themselves in a suitable register. The oral presentation fosters team-skills and oral expression.

Brief description

Students will be introduced to some of the major dimensions along which the German language varies and will be helped to develop a better understanding of the role of variation in German, and the relationship between variation and social factors. It will also enhance students' knowledge of linguistics as a science more generally. This module is normally a prerequisite for GE30420: Language and Society in the German-speaking Countries.


_Section One

1. Phoneme Theory
Phoneme (phonemic transcription), allophone (phonetic transcription), phonetic similarity, distinctive function, commutation, minimal pairs, phoneme inventory, complementary distribution, free variation, conditioned variation.

2. Sound Description
The parts of the vocal tract, places of articulation, manners of articulation, vowel vs. consonant, vowel diagram, three main parameters for consonant description.

3. German Sounds
The consonant system of German: three -label description for each phoneme.
The vowel system of German: the place of each phoneme in a vowel diagram.

_Section Two

1. What is German? How do we distinguish languages from dialects?

2. Along what dimensions does German vary (written / spoken; age; social class; geography; formality / informality, etc.)

3. What is register? Register variation in German.

4. Regional variation in German: how is it related to register variation?

5. General tendencies in modern German, e.g. borrowing from Anglo-American.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Barbour, S., Stevenson, P. (1990) Variation in German : a critical approach to German sociolinguistics / Stephen Barbour and Patrick Stevenson. Cambridge University Press Primo search Clyne, Michael (1995) The German Language in a Changing Europe CUP Primo search Durrell, Martin (2003) Using German : a guide to contemporary usage CUP Primo search Hall, Christopher (2003) Modern German Pronunciation Primo search Russ, Charles (2010) The Sounds of German Cambridge University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5