Regional Variation of /r/ in Swiss German Dialects

Adrian Leemann, Stephan Schmid, Dieter Studer-Joho, Marie-José Kolly


German-speaking Europe is known to feature substantial regional variation in the articulation of /r/. According to historical atlases, this is particularly true for the most southwestern fringe of the region, i.e. German-speaking Switzerland. Large-scale, multilocality studies that show an updated picture of regional variation in this region are lacking, however. To this end, we coded /r/s of almost 3,000 speakers from 438 localities on a predominantly auditory basis, using data crowdsourced through a smartphone app. We report substantial regional variation, with uvular articulations especially dominant in the Northwest and the Northeast and alveolar - particularly tapped - articulations prevalent in the Midlands. We further provide exemplary evidence of an urban ([ʁ]) vs. rural stratification ([ɾ]) in the Northwest. This contribution further discusses (a) issues related to the coding of /r/, given the volatile articulatory and acoustic properties of /r/s and (b) the benefits and pitfalls of the crowdsourcing methodology applied more generally.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1065

Cite as: Leemann, A., Schmid, S., Studer-Joho, D., Kolly, M. (2018) Regional Variation of /r/ in Swiss German Dialects. Proc. Interspeech 2018, 2738-2742, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1065.


@inproceedings{Leemann2018,
  author={Adrian Leemann and Stephan Schmid and Dieter Studer-Joho and Marie-José Kolly},
  title={Regional Variation of /r/ in Swiss German Dialects},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2018},
  pages={2738--2742},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1065},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1065}
}