Bricolage: zwischen dialektaler und globaler Variation – Wie sich Jugendliche über Stilbasteleien sozial positionieren

Esther Galliker


The article presents a sociolinguistic analysis of dialectal conversations in the German part of Switzerland. It focusses on an adolescent peer group, whose members position themselves socially using a wide range of stylistic variation. The highschool students’ community situat-ed in a rural area in the middle of the Swiss Alps co-construct their group identity deliberately combining various types of linguistic variants, styles and languages. Thus, they resort to ele-ments of a widely spread young urban street style as well as to traditional and to some extent outdated dialectal variants simultaneously. On the one hand, it is the width of the linguistic resources which is remarkable. On the other hand, it is impressive to observe the youths’ competence in combining different variants creating their new and own communicative style. The study sheds light on the subtle stylistic techniques at work and demonstrates how much knowledge about the peer group’s linguistic practices, preferences and resources is necessary to interpret and understand their conversations and social contextualisations. The methodolog-ical approach to the analysis of linguistic variation is a conceptual one: the main communica-tive practice in the young men’s talk are conceptualised by means of bricolage – a specific way of incorporating and adapting linguistic elements to create a new and individual speech style. The conceptual approach also allows for a comparison of the peer group’s linguistic practices with speech styles of other young peer groups all over Europe: even if the specific resources used by the youth might differ to some extent, the way in which young urban and young rural pupils deal with linguistic variation is surprisingly similar.