Fallon Hovland


Mennonite Plautdietsch; Seminole, Texas; contact linguistics; language maintenance


Plautdietsch is a Germanic language mostly spoken in the Americas. With a long history of migration, it has been influenced by a variety of linguistics contact situations. This paper provides qualitative analysis of Mennonite Plautdietsch-speakers in Seminole Texas. The dialect of Plautdietsch spoken shows influence from its contact with English (Texas and Canada) and Spanish (Mexico). This influence appears in borrowings and sound changes. The degree of linguistic influence correlates with the identity of the Mennonite community. Historically insular, the community in Seminole, which stems from an Old Colony Mennonite settlement in Mexico, practices a more progressive and modern lifestyle. In addition to Plautdietsch being genetically more similar to English than Spanish, the progressive identity of the community, since being in Seminole, has expedited the process of English influencing Plautdietsch. Conversely, said progressive identity is the same means by which Plautdietsch is gaining institutional support and maintenance. [Abstract by author]


I am indebted to my thesis advisor, Professor Hannah Haynie, without whose instruction and encouragement this paper would not have been possible. I would also like to pay special regards to Professor Berit Jany for her support and mentoring, as well as Professor Andrew Cowell, who guided me through preparing to collect data in the field. I wish to thank my participants and the Mennonite community of Seminole, Texas.



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