COOPERATION PROJECT CORPUS OF AUSTRIAN DIALECT RECORDINGS IN THE 20th CENTURY

Contact person PhA: Christian Huber
Contact person VaWaDiÖ and SFB DiÖ: Ludwig Maximilian Breuer

Living languages and their varieties are highly dynamic systems subject to constant change. Authentic access to earlier stages of spoken linguistic varieties is ideally provided by sound recordings, which are available for the past 100 years only to a limited extent. Such recordings must be preserved and have to be made accessible.

The present project is a cooperation of the Phonogrammarchiv, the Research Department “Variation and Change of German in Austria” and the FWF Special Research Programme “German in Austria” (F60) to digitize, annotate and analyse the Corpus of Austrian Dialect Recordings from the 20th Century from the Phonogrammarchiv’s holdings, starting with a collection of ca. 1750 dialect recordings (ca. 250 hours) that were included in UNESCO’s Memory of Austria Register in 2018, in order to ensure lasting preservation and an adequate data description.

The project started in January 2019.

The Corpus

Initiated by Maria Hornung and Eberhard Kranzmayer, in the 1950s to 1980s numerous linguists and dialectologists made recordings of regional varieties of spoken German all over Austria on magnetic tape. These recordings, which provide an exceptional picture of the dialect landscape of Austria, came about with the help of the Phonogrammarchiv, where the tapes are also archived, and constitute a source of historical dialect audio data that is unique in the German-speaking area.

The corpus consists of ca. 2450 audio recordings (ca. 520 hours), two thirds of which are yet to be digitized.  Traditional sound carriers such as wax cylinders or magnetic tape are subject to natural decay: once a sound carrier can no longer be played, the recordings on it are lost forever. Moreover, playing sound carriers such as magnetic tape requires special playing devices which are nowadays available in functioning condition only in specialized institutions. Therefore, it is necessary to digitize such perishable sound documents in order to preserve the linguistic data and contents in the long term and make them available for future generations. A carefully designed electronic metadata description and database ensures the searchability of the corpus not only for linguistic purposes.

By digitizing the audio recordings and enriching and systemizing the metadata in a searchable electronic documentation it will become possible to use these recordings in a wider scientific context as well as make them accessible to the general public.

 

Subcorpus Sound Recordings of Austrian Dialects 1951–1983

In phase one, the project focuses on the subcorpus Tonaufnahmen österreichischer Dialekte 1951–1983 [Sound Recordings of Austrian Dialects 1951–1983], which was in  included in UNESCO’s Memory of Austria Register in 2018. It consists of a collection of ca. 1750 audio recordings (ca. 250 hours) on magnetic tape resulting from a cooperation of the Phonogrammarchiv and and the co-called “Wörterbuchkanzlei” at the ÖAW (i.e. “Kommission zur Schaffung des Österreichisch-Bayerischen Wörterbuches”, after 1969 “Kommission für Mundartkunde und Namenforschung”).

 

Goals

The cooperation project will create a searchable digital corpus, to be developed into an online research platform in a later step. This is highly relevant also beyond the scope of German linguistics or archiving and will guarantee optimal accessibility of this linguistic and socio-cultural treasure for all fields of research. By digitizing the audio recordings and enriching and systemizing the metadata in a searchable electronic documentation it will become possible to use these recordings in a wider scientific context  as well as make them accessible to the general public.

 

Core Team 2019

 

Links:

„Tonaufnahmen österreichischer Dialekte 1951–1983“ included in the Austrian national „Memory of the World“ register of the UNESCO

Memory of Austria-Register, Tonaufnahmen österreichischer Dialekte 1951-1983(German)

ORF Science: Geistberger / Wieselberg: Dialektarchiv ist UNESCO-Welterbe (German)

ÖAW: Dialect recordings of the ÖAW in the „Memory of the World" (German)

audio samples (German)