In the German-speaking regions of Switzerland, dialect is spoken by all social groups in most communicative situations, Standard German being used only when prescribed. Swiss dialects rarely appeared in written form before the 1980s, apart from the genre of dialect literature. Due to the growing acceptance of informal writing styles in many European languages, dialect is increasingly employed for written personal communication, in particular in computer-mediated communication (CMC). In Swiss Internet Relay Chat (IRC) rooms, varieties of German are used side by side as all chatters have a command of both standard and dialectal varieties. Depending on the channel, the proportion of dialectal contributions can be as high as 90 percent. The choice of a particular variety depends on both individual preference and on the predominant variety used within a specific thread. In this paper I take a quantitative approach to language variation in IRC and demonstrate how such an approach can help embed qualitative research on code-switching in CMC
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