DWA Austria – Pilot Study

With a total of about 50,000 survey locations the German Word Atlas / Deutsche Wortatlas (DWA) (Mitzka, Walther & Ludwig Erich Schmitt. 1951 – 1980. Deutscher Wortatlas. Gießen: Schmitz) is the most comprehensive survey of 20th century lexis in the German-speaking world. The survey was conducted indirectly by means of questionnaires between 1939 and 1942.

The questionnaires contained 188 words and 12 complete sentences, which were to be translated into the local dialect by the respective teachers of the school places written to. In addition, the school and birthplace of the teachers and pupils were asked for, which were used to answer the questions.

Completed DWA questionnaires from a total of about 3,700 place points are available for Austria. Previous research on the DWA data had to manually transliterate the questionnaires, which were mostly filled out by hand and in Kurrent script, in order to be able to use them for further scientific research.

With the help of Transkribus, a platform for the full-text digitisation of handwritten sources, selected Austrian DWA sheets are now to be recorded and made usable within the framework of a pilot study. In contrast to conventional text recognition products, Transkribus works with AI support. With the help of a training corpus of DWA questionnaires to be transcribed manually, a model is to be trained that can be used in a next step for the further indexing of Austrian DWA questionnaires.

The pilot study "DWA Austria" is a cooperation project of the research department Linguistics at ACDH-CH, the SFB "German in Austria. Variation - Contact - Perception" and the "DSA | Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas" at the Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Project Duration

1 October 2022 ­– 30 September 2023



Markus Kunzmann

Alexandra N. Lenz

Philipp Stöckle


Partner Institution

DSA | Forschungszentrum Deutscher Sprachatlas