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Changing argument structure in (heritage) Pennsylvania German

  • By way of migration, large numbers of German-speaking settlers arrived in Pennsylvania between roughly 1700 and 1750. Pennsylvania German, as a distinct variety, developed through levelling processes from L1 varieties of these migrants who came mainly from the southwestern regions of the German speaking area. Pennsylvania German is still spoken today by specific religious groups (primarily Amish and Menonnite groups) for many of whom it is an identity marker. My paper focuses on those Pennsylvania Germans who are not part of these religious groups but have the same migration history. Due to their being closer to the cultural values of American mainstream society, they were integrated into it, and during the 20th century their use of Pennsylvania German was continually diminishing. A revival of this heritage language has occurred over the past c. three decades, including language courses offered at community colleges, public libraries, etc., where ethnic Pennsylvania Germans wish to (re-)learn the language of their grandparents. Written Pennsylvania German data from four points in time between the 1860s and the 1990s were analysed in this study. Based on these linguistic analyses, differences between the data sets are shown that point towards a diachronic change in the language contact situation of Pennsylvania German speakers. Sociolinguistic and extralinguistic factors are considered that influence the role of PG and make their speakers heritage speakers much in the sense of recent immigrant heritage speakers, although delayed by 200 years.

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Author:Doris Stolberg
Parent Title (German):Applied linguistics review
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2014
Date of Publication (online):2015/01/13
Tag:Pennsylvania German; argument structure; heritage language; language change
GND Keyword:Argumentstruktur; Pennsylvaniadeutsch; Sprachwechsel; Zweisprachigkeit
First Page:329
Last Page:352
Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch / 437 Varianten des Deutschen
Open Access?:ja
BDSL-Classification:Deutsche Sprache im Ausland
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Linguistics-Classification:Dialektologie / Sprachgeografie
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt