Celebrate German-American Day with American Speech

Happy German-American Day! Celebrate with two volumes of the Publication of the American Dialect Society (PADS), “Pennsylvania German in the American Midwest” and “The Life and Death of Texas German.”

ddpads_96_coverIn “Pennsylvania German in the American Midwest,” Steven Hartman Keiser studies the divisions separating the Midwestern and the Pennsylvania varieties of Pennsylvania German, demonstrating that these dialects are divided by boundaries similar to those that distinguish dialects of English in the same geographic regions. Keiser provides empirical detail on the distribution of key linguistic variants in several Pennsylvania German–speaking communities in the Midwest and explores the internal changes, patterns of migration, and language contact that have led to the current geographic and social distribution of these features. In addition, he considers the potential for future dialect divergence or convergence as he describes the links between these language varieties and the notions of regional identity in the attitudes of Pennsylvania German speakers in the Midwest and those in Pennsylvania toward each other.

asp_83_5_prThe Life and Death of Texas German” presents the first major study of Texas German as spoken in the twenty-first century, focusing on its formation and the linguistic changes it has undergone. This New World dialect, formed more than 150 years ago in German communities in central Texas, is an unusual example of a formerly high-status dialect that declined for sociopolitical reasons. An important case study for dialect research, Texas German is now critically endangered and will probably be extinct by 2050.

By comparing and contrasting present-day data with data from the German dialects brought to Texas since the 1840s, the volume offers an in-depth analysis of mutual interaction between the German-speaking community and English-speaking Texans, long-term accommodation of Texas German speakers in this new community, and language hybridization on the Texas frontier. The volume also analyzes a number of phonological, syntactic, and morphological changes in Texas German over the past century and examines sociolinguistic aspects of the Texas German community from its foundation to today, providing insight into the dynamics underlying new-dialect formation, diglossia, language shift, language maintenance, and language death. Finally, the volume investigates the rapid disappearance of languages, which has global social and cultural implications for areas beyond linguistics.

All one hundred volumes of PADS are freely available online through 2016. Browse volumes 1-100 to discover the breadth of this resource, dating from 1944 to the present. To learn more about the journal, visit dukeupress.edu/american-speech.

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