09. September 2021
Gesamt-SFB – Nachricht

Statement regarding the lecture “Österreichisches Deutsch oder Deutsch in Österreich? Über einen Problemfall, seit 1848, der Wissenschaftsgeschichte” held on August 25, 2021 by Prof. Dr. Stefan Dollinger

On August 25, 2021, Stefan Dollinger, Professor at the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), held an online lecture for the network “Austrian Scientists & Scholars in North America” (ASCINA), entitled “Österreichisches Deutsch oder Deutsch in Österreich? Über einen Problemfall, seit 1848, der Wissenschaftsgeschichte”.

In this lecture, the FWF-funded[1] Special Research Programme (SFB) “German in Austria. Variation –Contact – Perception”, the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ long-term project “Dictionary of Bavarian Dialects in Austria (WBÖ)”, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) itself, as well as numerous colleagues in Austrian German Studies and beyond (amongst others) were defamed in a most unscientific and populist fashion. Fundamental principles of scientific standard were not respected in this lecture, such that arguments were made without proper referencing of scientific sources, research topics and projects were mixed together in an undifferentiated way, ahistorical connections were drawn, and false claims about the research projects, publications, and theoretical positions of German-studies colleagues were propagated.

We firmly distance ourselves from the inaccurate representations in the lecture and categorically reject the false allegations made.

Regarding in particular some of Mr. Dollinger's comments on the FWF Special Research Programme F60 “German in Austria. Variation - Contact -Perception”,[2] we wish to set the record straight as follows:

  1. The terminology “German in Austria” is not an import from Germany (quote: “from 2010”), but picks up a phrase that has been used in Austrian German studies for decades (see e.g. Reiffenstein 1983, Muhr 1987, Scheuringer 1996).
  2. The term and construct of a “One Standard German Axiom” originate from Dollinger (2019). It is to be noted that such an axiom – as Dollinger presents it – does in no way correspond with the linguistic policy stance and scientific conviction of the collaborators and researchers of SFB F60. Indeed, if such an axiom were at its base, the SFB F60’s application for funding would most certainly not have passed the FWF's extensive and multi-stage international review process – including an interim evaluation. (For more information on the highly competitive and international selection process of the FWF's “Special Research Programme (SFB)”, see www.fwf.ac.at/fileadmin/files/Dokumente/Downloads/sfb-abweichungen.pdf).
  3. The SFB F60 “German in Austria” and the “Dictionary of Bavarian Dialects in Austria (WBÖ)” are two different projects. The SFB F60 has not “adopted” the project WBÖ - and could not even formally do so.

Furthermore, the SFB F60 rejects with utmost clarity and firmness the expressed allegation that the “theory” of the SFB could be regarded as “deutschnational” (‘German-national’).

For details on the manifold and differentiated research positions of the SFB “German in Austria. Variation – Contact – Perception” team and its altogether 32 members, comprising a total of 27 Prae- and Postdocs and 5 Professors as well as 31 co-opted and associated experts from Austria and abroad, we refer to the SFB’s project pages, where all research outcomes – publications, events, media activities, etc. – of the SFB are documented: https://dioe.at.

With regard to Dollinger’s comments on the ÖAW’s long-term project “Dictionary of Bavarian Dialects in Austria (WBÖ)”, we wish to set the record straight as follows:

Dollinger accuses the WBÖ of bearing “profound deutsch-national and historical Nazi roots“, connecting these roots particularly with the person of Eberhard Kranzmayer (1897–1975). The WBÖ’s foundation took place in 1913; Kranzmayer was in charge of the project between 1967 and 1975. The WBÖ’s current editors are keenly aware of the incurred historical responsibility and firmly reject any allegations of an uncritical perpetuation of National Socialist ideology. Kranzmayer’s biography and his scientific and historical role have already been multiply reviewed and are also the focus of ongoing scientific-historical projects within the WBÖ (and beyond).

For details on the long-term project “Dictionary of Bavarian Dialects in Austria (WBÖ)” of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which is regularly evaluated according to international standards, as well as on its international advisory board and its co-opted experts, its research results and its satellite projects (also on aspects of the history of science), be referred to the WBÖ project pages https://www.oeaw.ac.at/acdh/sprachwissenschaft/projekte/wboe


For information on the high, international quality standards of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, see https://www.oeaw.ac.at/forschung/forschung-an-der-oeaw

On the long-term research program of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, see https://www.oeaw.ac.at/forschung/institute/langzeitforschungsprogramm


The following individuals and groups support this letter:

In this context, see also:

Op-Ed by Prof. Dr. Christine Mannhalter, FWF vice-president (2010-2015) as well as interim president (2015-2016): “Die falschen Behauptungen des Professor Muhr. Ja zur Kritik, aber diese muss auf nachvollziehbaren Quellen und Daten beruhen“ (‘Professor Muhr's false claims. Yes to criticism, but it has to be based on transparent sources and data’), September 15, 2015. (https://www.diepresse.com/4827891/die-falschen-behauptungen-des-professor-muhr)

https://dioe.at/Rebuttal by the FWF regarding the Op-Ed “Sprachforschung: Zurück ins 19. Jahrhundert …" (‘Language Research: Back to the 19th Century …’ September 22, 2015, “Die Presse”) from September 23, 2015: https://www.fwf.ac.at/de/news-presse/news/nachricht/nid/20150923-2146/

[1] FWF = Austrian Science Fund (https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/)
[2] Henceforth ‘SFB F60’

Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag
DiÖ (2021): Statement regarding the lecture “Österreichisches Deutsch oder Deutsch in Österreich? Über einen Problemfall, seit 1848, der Wissenschaftsgeschichte” held on August 25, 2021 by Prof. Dr. Stefan Dollinger. In: DiÖ-Online.
URL: https://dioe.at/details/artikel/3034/
[Zugriff: 27.09.2021]