Chatting in natural language

Communication through digital channels is a bit like having a typed conversation. Dialects might stand to benefit from this fact, believes Professor Rüdiger Harnisch, one of the spokespersons for the planned Cyber<>Spaces Cluster.

In a nutshell:

  • Digitalisation allows people to converse across vast distances, making communication ‘cheaper, more synchronous and more colloquial’, said Rüdiger Harnisch, a professor of linguistics at the University of Passau.
  • Drawing parallels to the media revolution following the invention of the printing press some 500 years ago, he considers that the new possibilities opened up by modern technology may even offer dialects a new lease of life:  ‘When chatting, we have free rein to write in any which way we want’.
  • Professor Harnisch believes that dialects are far from being a lost cause in the digital age, saying that ‘dialects have to hold their ground on a communicative level and in social day-to-day situations.’ Harnisch said that speakers of dialects have reason to be confident.

About Professor Harnisch

Rüdiger Harnisch uses digitalisation to document German dialects: Together with his team, he has collated 6,000 audio files from 207 places in Lower Bavaria and 22 in the Czech Republic and made them available online through the talking language atlas of Lower Bavaria and the neighbouring Bohemian Forest region.

More on Professor Harnisch’s research