Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research
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Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research


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21 pages


Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research Comparison Dimension Qualitative Research Quantitative Research Types of questions Sample size Information per respondent Administration Type of analysis Hardware Ability to replicate Training of the researcher Type of research Probing Small Much Requires interviewer with special skills Subjective, Interpretive Tape recorders, projection devices, videos, pictures, discussion guides Low Psychology, sociology, social psychology, consumer behavior, marketing, marketing research Exploratory Nonprobing Large Varies Fewer special skills required Statistical, summarization Questionnaires, computers, printouts High Statistics, decision models, decision support systems, computer programming, marketing, marketing research Descriptive or causal
  • ideas by importance
  • completion techniques construction techniques
  • unstructured discussion
  • quantitative techniques
  • observation observation
  • observation to observation
  • focus groups
  • moderator
  • ideas
  • group



Publié par
Nombre de lectures 17
Langue English


A critique of some common assumptions in German dialect didactics
Winifred V. Davies

This paper was inspired by earlier research amongst teachers in parts of central
Germany, which established that the informants had a relatively low level of
sociolinguistic awareness (Davies in press, a, b). It has also been influenced by
the work of British linguists like Romy Clark, Norman Fairclough, Roz Ivanic
and Marilyn Martin-Jones, who have contributed a great deal to the debate
about language awareness in language education, and have developed the
concept of „critical language awareness‟ (CLA) (see, for example, Fairclough
1992). Having investigated the sociolinguistic awareness of the practitioners, I
decided to turn my attention to the theorists and policy-makers and examine to
what extent their pronouncements and prescriptions are based upon what
advocates of CLA would regard as contentious theoretical assumptions about
language, or have been influenced by „critical‟ theories of language and
language education. The material which will be examined comes from writings
by academics and from school curricula in Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-
Pfalz. I shall discuss a selection of what I consider to be contentious
assumptions about language and linguistic variation, explaining why I think
they are so.
Assumption 1: Dialect is a problem
1 Regional non-standard dialects are often referred to as a „problem‟. Two
examples serve to illustrate this: (i) Besch et al. (1983) contains two articles:
„Probleme des Dialektsprechers beim Erwerb der deutschen Standardsprache‟
and „Problems beim Fremdsprachenerwerb‟. Ironically, in
the latter article Viereck concludes that sometimes dialect-speakers are at an
advantage when learning a foreign language, although the title gives a very
different impression. (ii) In the Lehrplan Deutsch. Gymnasium. Rheinland-
Pfalz. 1984, we find that one of the topics from which the tenth class has to
choose is „Der deutsche Sprachraum und die sich daraus ergebenden
Probleme‟ (emphasis added). Recently there have been some attempts to
replace this concept with the notion of „Dialekt als Chance‟, e.g. Klotz / Sieber
In den siebziger Jahren standen die Diskussionen um Dialektdidaktik weitgehend unter
der Forderung, die Nachteile, welche Dialektsprecher gegenüber den anderen Schülern
hätten, mit unterrichtlichen Arrangements zu kompensieren bis hin zur radikalen
Forderung der “Ersetzung des Dialekts durch die Einheitssprache” [...]. Demgegenüber
sind in die neuere Diskussion Aspekte hinzugekommen, die Dialektvoraussetzungen nicht
einfach negativ als Handicap bestimmen, sondern auch nach Chancen und
Bildungsmöglichkeiten suchen, die mit der Verfügungskompetenz über dialektale Register
verbunden sind [...] (1993: 8).
Non-standard dialect is to be seen as a resource rather than as a problem.
However, both views are more problematic than may at first appear.
The first view, dialect as a problem, does not always differentiate clearly
between dialect as a social problem and dialect as a linguistic problem. Neither
does it make clear that research has shown that dialect is not problematic for all
speakers in the same way: as Rosenberg points out: „Nicht, ob jemand Dialekt
spricht ist also das Problem, sondern ob jemand nur (oder fast nur) Dialekt
spricht!‟ (1993: 24).
It has often been assumed that speakers of regional non-standard varieties have
problems mastering standard German, especially its written realisation, because
of interference from the dialect: there is some truth in that and practitioners
ought to be aware of the potential difficulties faced by dialect-speakers, but
some of the problems are not peculiar to them. According to Ammon, „Die
Einheitssprache läßt sich unmittelbarer und leichter in die geschriebene Sprache
umsetzen‟ (1982: 36), but Barbour (1987: 234) shows that not even the speech
of highly educated and socially successful middle-class speakers is synonymous
with standard written German. Rosenberg‟s work on Berlin is also relevant in
this context. He found that standard-speaking pupils from Hanover as well as
dialect-speaking Berlin pupils made mistakes in a test dictation and he
concluded that „Der Bereich, der unter den Verschlußlauten am häufigsten zu
Fehlern führt, ist die Stimmhaftigkeitskorrelation […]. Diese Schwierigkeiten
sind allgemeiner umgangssprachlicher Natur‟ (1986: 222). We must therefore
differentiate between errors in written German that are due to interference from
regional non-standard dialects and those that are due to interference from
spoken forms of German.
The negative evaluation of non-standard linguistic varieties by some sections of
German society can have repercussions for speakers of those varieties. Often
attempts are made to present these evaluations as linguistic ones, which seems
to lend them an air of neutrality, i.e. it has been argued that dialect should be
eradicated in order to facilitate the learning of standard German. The view that
dialect should be eradicated is not voiced very often today, but the use of non-
standard varieties is still acceptable only in certain situations, not those which
2are prestigious: formal, public, official . The use of non-standard dialect in such
situations (including school) can still bring sanctions with it, so pupils quickly
learn (and are taught) that language varies and that certain varieties are more
desirable than others. This is usually explained in terms of the demands of
appropriacy, but the power relations between different varieties and their
speakers are rarely discussed, and the reason quoted most often to account for
the convention of using standard German in public/formal/official situations is
its greater communicative radius, i.e. its greater intelligibility. In my opinion,
however, this is a contestable notion and I shall return to it later.
It must be stressed that I am not arguing that children whose vernacular is a
regional non-standard dialect never face problems, but we have to be far more
specific when describing those problems. As Wagner (1987: 131) says,
referring to a study in Bavaria, there is no evidence that speakers of non-
standard dialect per se have problems at school: a correlation between use of a
non-t and a low mark in German was only established for pupils
who used broad non-standard dialect forms even in formal situations.
Moreover, Viereck (1983: 1494-5) shows that speakers of some Austrian non-
standard dialects could be at an advantage when learning English because of
certain phonological / phonetic similarities, and we know that all pupils have
problems learning to write standard German (Barbour 1987). Speakers of
regional non-standard dialects may face problems, but it must be made clearer
that many of these problems are social problems, not linguistic problems; they
are problems of attitudes, which are products of specific historical and social
contexts. It is not therefore legitimate, in my opinion, to present dialect-
speakers as people with problems per se.
The concept of „Dialekt als Chance‟ occurs relatively often in the recent
academic literature. It usually means two things: (i) regional non-standard
dialect as a means of expressing one‟s identity: it gives information about a
person‟s geographical and social background and can be used to show
solidarity with others from the same background; (ii) multilingualism as a
valuable resource: speakers of a regional non-standard dialect have an
additional register, which is more appropriate in some situations than the
standard (cf. Bücherl 1993: 72-6). It is usually assumed that the speaker‟s
repertoire also includes standard. This is a rather one-sided view of „Dialekt als
Chance‟ since there is never any suggestion that monoglot speakers of standard
German should acquire a non-standard dialect in order to expand their
Assumption 2: Mutual intelligibility is only secured by means of standard
This is frequently cited as a reason why people need to learn standard German,
e.g. by Bayer:
Die Fähigkeit zum verständlichen, präzisen und situationsangemessenen expliziten
Ausdruck von Gedanken und zu entsprechendem Verstehen ist eine der Voraussetzungen
für die Teilnahme an politischen und kulturellen Prozessen, die in einem demokratischen
Staat unabdingbar notwendig ist, und nicht zuletzt auch für die sprachliche Bewältigung
einer Vielzahl alltäglicher Situationen und für berufliches Fortkommen.
Eine überregionale, syntaktisch und semantisch ausgebaute Standardsprache ist
Voraussetzung für die in einem pluralistischen demokratischen Staat notwendige Kritik
und Verständigung zwischen den einzelnen Gruppierungen (Altersgruppen, Parteien,
Verbänden, usw.).
Wenn es auch außer Zweifel steht, daß Dialekte, Schicht- und Gruppensprachen v.a.
wichtige emotionale und beziehungsstiftende Funktionen haben und der Standardsprache
in speziellen Teilbereichen sogar überlegen sein können, so kann unter demokratischer
Zielsetzung dennoch auf die kulturschließende und integrative Funktion der
Standardsprache nicht verzichtet werden. Dialekte, Schicht- und Gruppensprachen sind
als Ergänzungen zur Standardsprache (auch im Unterricht) nützlich und wünschenswert;
sie können diese aber nicht ersetzen, ohne daß die Gesellschaft in eine große Zahl
partikulärer Gruppen ohne die Möglichkeit differenzierter gegenseitiger Verständigung
zerfällt (1984, 318-19, emphasis added).
Ammon, too, is a fierce advocate of the greater communicative radius of
standard German:
[es] besteht allerdings deutlich funktionale Inäquivalenz zwischen Dialekten und
Hochsprache. Sie erweist sich z.B. unverkennbar, wenn man Dialekte außerhalb ihres
Gebrauchsgebietes zu sprechen versucht; man ruft dann Verständnisschwierigkeiten
hervor. Dagegen wird die Hochsprache in sämtlichen Dialektgebieten verstanden (1982:
42, emphasis added).
The Bildunsgsplan für das Gymnasium Baden-Württemberg (1994) for the
tenth class refers to the importance of the standard language for mutual
intelligibility within Germany: „Die Schüler und Schülerinnen erkennen die
Bedeutung der Standardsprache für die überregionale Verständigung und den
Eigenwert der Mundart als regional begrenzter Sprachform‟ (1994: 428).
Two problems need to be addressed here: (i) the subjective dimension of
comprehension is neglected, and (ii) it is assumed that the standard language is
a variety which is understood by all. However, König (1978: 135) refers to
studies which found that news broadcasts in standard German were not
3understood by all listeners, or were only partly understood. Ammon‟s
assumption that, with standard German, one can achieve „mühelose
Verständigung im ganzen deutschen Sprachgebiet‟ (1979: 36 ) implies, too, that
standard German is some sort of monolithic and neutral variety and that there is
no discussion at all about the meaning of concepts such as „Freiheit‟,
„Demokratie‟, „Sozialismus‟. Wachs was one of the first to contest this appeal
to the supraregional radius of standard German:
Selbst der zunächst plausible Verweis auf die überregionale Reichweite der
Standardvarietät wirkt wenig überzeugend, da Ammon den Fehlschluß macht, den
regional begrenzten Geltungsbereich der Dialekte mit deren kommunikativer Reichweite
gleichzusetzen. Diese Sichtweise basiert zum einen auf der Annahme, daß Dialekt und
Standard geschlossene Systeme darstellen, darüber hinaus werden die Variationsbreite der
Sprecher und ihre Verstehensbereitschaft vernachlässigt […] (1982: 332).
Various important points are made here. Firstly, standard German and regional
dialects are not closed systems, between which speakers switch as if they were
bilinguals switching between two autonomous varieties. This is certainly true of
4central and southern Germany, where speakers move along a continuum
between the basal dialect and standard German, varying the frequency with
which they use standard or non-standard features depending on social and
situational factors (Durrell 1992: 20).
Secondly, the word „Verstehensbereitschaft‟ indicates the role of subjective
factors, i.e. attitudes, in comprehension. Comprehension is not secured solely
on the basis of objectively measurable linguistic distance between varieties, as
is illustrated by Wolff‟s work in Nigeria and Haugen‟s in Scandinavia. Wolff
found that speakers of varieties which were, on the basis of a comparative
linguistic analysis, extremely close, often claimed that they could not
understand each other, with speakers of the more prestigious varieties usually
more likely to claim not to understand other varieties than vice versa (1959: 35-
9). Haugen found that the will to understand played a major role in overcoming
communication difficulties between speakers of different varieties (1966: 280).
Lewandowski, too, stresses the social dimension of comprehension when he
writes that „kommunikativer Erfolg in der Regel am besten mit Äußerungen
erreicht wird, die der allgemein geltenden Norm entsprechen (oder sie gar
überbieten), und daß Fehler jedweder Art in der Lage sind, den Hörer oder
Leser zu irritieren‟ (1982: 20). This emphasises that communicative success
involves more than just transmission of a message: it involves creating a certain
impression on one‟s addressee, as underlined by Bourdieu when he makes the
important point that not everyone gets listened to, however intelligibly they talk
or write:
The competence adequate to produce sentences that are likely to be understood may be
quite inadequate to produce sentences that are likely to be listened to, likely to be
recognized as acceptable in all the situations in which there is occasion to speak. [...]
social acceptability is not reducible to mere grammaticality (Bourdieu 1991: 54-5).
This underlines the extra-linguistic aspects of comprehension, which mustn‟t be
neglected in any discussion of mutual intelligibilty between varieties.
Some linguists, however, believe that the role of extra-linguistic factors in
ensuring mutual intelligibilty can be over-emphasised. Milroy (1984), for
example, thinks that sociolinguists don‟t know enough about cross-dialectal
communication to be able to claim that miscommunication is not a problem.
She shows that linguistic and non-linguistic context doesn‟t always help
speakers to avoid communication breakdowns even when the will to understand
is there. Also, one must be aware that lack of a common standard can cause
more problems with written texts because of the relatively context-free nature
of writing.
This means that we shouldn‟t be too dismissive of claims that mis-
communication can occur between speakers of different varieties of German,
but I would argue that the standard has to be included here. We cannot simply
assume that the standard is understood perfectly by speakers of non-standard
varieties. We need more information in order to know how much work needs to
be done in schools to ensure that effective communication takes place, and
pupils need to discuss the concept of „effective comunication‟ and uncover the
linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that affect it. The media could perhaps
play a role in making non-standard varieties familiar to larger audiences and
schools could help by making pupils familiar with different accents and
dialects, as is suggested by Andersson / Trudgill (1990: 170). They suggest that
schools should encourage pupils to acquire the ability to understand a wide
range of accents and that pupils should be made aware of the importance of
5being comprehensible to speakers of other accents and to non-native speakers .
Some sociolinguists (e.g. Sieber / Sitta 1986: 82, 172) see a greater stress on
„Sprachverständlichkeitsnormen‟ rather than „Sprachrichtigkeitsnormen‟ as a
step towards greater norm tolerance in schools. Laudable as that sentiment
might be, there are, however, problems associated with this approach, for
example, who is to decide what is comprehensible? Is it what is comprehensible
to teachers without too much effort? This approach could mean transmitting
norms that are as arbitrary as the „Sprachrichtigkeitsnormen‟, but which show
6as much variability from one teacher to the next .
Assumption 3: The appropriateness model is less prescriptive and more
objective than a model based on correctness (cf. Cameron 1995: 235)
The appropriateness model is based on „the view that varieties of a language
differ in being appropriate for different purposes and different situations‟
(Fairclough 1992: 33), i.e. it is based ultimately on the Difference Theory of
linguistic variation. The Difference theory (unlike the Deficit theory) assumes
the functional equivalence of all varieties of a language, whilst accepting that
they are differently evaluated by society (Dittmar 1980: 128-31). Dittmar
demands a critical approach to this social evaluation (i.e. that non-standard
varieties are appropriate only in informal, private and / or non-official domains,
which are normally less positively evaluated than formal, public and / or
official domains) and a recognition of the socio-historical conditions which
have established a particular set of linguistic practices - the standard variety - as
dominant and legitimate (1980: 128-31). Cameron, too, criticises the uncritical
use of the discourse of „appropriacy‟ by some proponents of Difference theory:
the way [they] use the language of „appropriateness‟ has the effect of treating norms as
facts, of obscuring their contingency and thus of blunting critical responses to them. The
alternative is to make clear that while norms materially affect people‟s behaviour [...],
these norms are open to challenge and to change (1995: 235).
The curricula examined here are based on an appropriateness model of
variation and refer to the fact that pupils should be taught to use different
varieties of German in an „appropriate‟ fashion, e.g. the Bildungsplan für die
Grundschule Baden-Württemberg. Deutsch (1994: 20), as
Gymnasium Baden-Württemberg. Deutsch (1994: 428) and the Lehrplan
Deutsch. Realschule. Rheinland-Pfalz (1984: 7). The following quotation
exemplifies this: „Die Schüler und Schülerinnen erkennen die Bedeutung der
Standardsprache für die überregionale Verständigung und den Eigenwert der
Mundart als regional begrenzter Sprachform‟ (Bildungsplan für das
Gymnasium Baden-Württemberg. Deutsch. 1994: 428). Standard German and
non-standard dialect are presented as having different functions: one is
appropriate for supraregional communication and one for regionally restricted
communication. The problems associated with assumptions about intelligibility
between varieties have already been mentioned. Although there is no time to go
into this in greater detail, another thing to be borne in mind is that features of
non-standard dialect which are avoided by speakers in formal situations are
often widespread geographically: it is their social radius that is limited not their
geographical radius (Davies 1999, Jakob 1985). This pronouncement takes no
note of such facts.
The curriculum for the Gymnasium in Baden-Württemberg goes on to say:
Inhalt: Mundart und Standardsprache; Großgliederung des deutschen Sprachgebiets;
Funktionen der Mundart (Zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl, Gefühlswerte, Anschaulichkeit);

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