Language shift and phone sex

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Abstract

Ever since I left my native village in the Bavarian Forest more than 25 years ago, I have been returning for regular, even if infrequent, visits. Over the years, there have been many changes and two of them have been particularly noticeable to me: (1) Language shift: When I left, I knew how to read and write German but I couldn’t speak the national language. In that I would have been a typical representative of my generation. This has changed dramatically since then and most people I meet are now bilingual and switch between German and Bavarian with various degrees of comfort. Additionally, there are now young parents who have made German the language of the home and speak only German to their children (again, with various levels of proficiency). In sum, this rural and relatively remote area of South-East Germany has experienced rapid and extensive language shift over the past quarter of a century. (2) Commercial sex: When I left, the availability of commercial sex was invisible. For all I know, it didn’t exist. Now, as you travel east from Munich on the autobahn, there are numerous billboards signaling the presence of the sex industry, including a huge structure saying “Sex shop” somewhere close to Landshut that is visible from miles away. With the commercials in the papers and the fliers advertising for the sex industry, the semiotic landscape is similar to the one I described for Switzerland in this article. Furthermore, tales of the exploits of men who visit prostitutes just behind the border in the Czech Republic and the marriages that have fallen apart as a result of all this are now a ubiquitous part of village gossip.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
PublisherLanguage on the move
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

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Keywords

  • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
  • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)

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