Language change across speech islands : the emergence of a midwestern dialect of Pennsylvania German
Author: Steven Hartman Keiser
Publisher: Ohio State University
Publication date: 2001
Number of pages: 309
Format / Quality: pdf
This dissertation studies the emergence, maintenance, and cultural significance of a Midwestern variety of Deitsch, also known as Pennsylvania German, in geographically isolated Amish communities in the American Midwest. In spite of the apparent lack of contact between them, these speech islands take part in recent linguistic changes which differentiate them from speakers in Pennsylvania. These common developments in relative isolation can be interpreted as a violation of “natural linguistic laws” (Chambers 1995). The aim of this research is to provide an account for the unusual homogeneity of Midwestern Deitsch. In so doing, I consider a question of crucial and ongoing importance in the study of language change: how do external factors (that is, contact with speakers of other dialects and other languages) interact with internal factors (that is, the structure of the language itself) to effect linguistic change?