Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Gary Palmer

Number of Pages



After the dividing wall between East and West Berlin fell in 1989 many changes occurred on what was formerly the eastern side of the city. Polls taken soon after found out that the East Berliners' excitement about the reunification vanished quickly. One of the more prominent---but largely ignored---new problems was the linguistic barrier that had developed between East and West during the forty years of separation; The people in and around Berlin speak a regional dialect, Berlinish. Unbeknownst to most Berliners, the dialect took on a vastly different symbolic meaning for the people in the West than it did for the people in the East. It became associated with lower educational and class levels, and was perceived to reflect ignorance on the speaker's part in the West. In the eastern part of Berlin, however, the dialect developed a positive symbolic value. Because East Berlin (due to its proximity to the West) became a "showcase" city, the dialect became a sign of affluence and cultural superiority. This paper will analyze these trends by evaluating research findings (based on interviews, participant observation, recordings of reading lists, matched guise tests, and surveys) and discussing potential implications for gender and network relationships.


Behavior; Berliners; Dialect; East; Fall; Former; Linguistic; Observations; Rise; Shifting; Wall

Controlled Subject

Ethnology; Linguistics; Communication

File Format


File Size

3665.92 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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