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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Catholic Bohemian German Dialect of Ellis, Kansas Add Dissertation
Author: Gabriele Lunte Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Kansas, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Plautdietsch
Director(s): William Keel

Abstract: Beginning in the 1880s, many German speaking immigrants left the Austrian settlements in Bukovina for the United States. The Bukovina immigrants to the Ellis area in west central Kansas formed two distinct groups in Ellis. The Lutheran "Swabian" Germans, who speak a Palatine type of dialect, came from southwest Germany. The Catholic Bohemian Germans, who represent the focus of my research, found their way to America and Kansas via Bukovina from the Bohemian Forest, today situated in the Czech Republic.

The Catholic Bohemian Germans retained their native dialect for the first two generations following their arrival in Kansas. The pressure of assimilation into the American mainstream society and the subsequent decline of the German dialect grew with increasing anti-German animosity between the two World Wars.

This dissertation provides a written documentation of what is left of the Catholic Bohemian German dialect of Ellis, Kansas, which, like other remaining German dialects in Kansas, faces its linguistic demise. The linguistic data for this study were gathered by tape recorded interviews with eleven informants. The main source for the recorded interview sessions were a series of forty Wenker sentences and a number of isolated vocabulary items used for the compilation of the Deutscher Wortatlas (the German word atlas). Recordings of free conversations and picture descriptions of rural scenes in the dialect also provided data for this project. In addition, anecdotes and jokes were obtained from some informants. The interview materials were presented in English with the informants answering in the native dialect.

The language of the Catholic Bohemian Germans has dialect features which are mainly associated with Central Bavarian, but it also shows characteristics of the Central-North Bavarian dialect transition zone.

In addition to the historical background of the Bukovina Germans, the phonology, morphology, and syntactic structure of the Ellis Catholic Bohemian German dialect are described in detail. Other linguistic issues dealt with are lexical forms, borrowing, the linguistic history and dialect geographical origin. Finally, implications on language death and the revival of heritage awareness of Bukovina Germans are discussed.