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Peter Hess, Chair 2505 University Avenue, Burdine Hall 336, Mailcode C3300, Austin TX 78712-1802 • 512-471-4123

Fall 2009

GER 393K • Language Contact and Language Death in Texas

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38510 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BUR 234

Course Description

- Course taught in English, All readings in English - This course deals with the dynamics underlying language contact and language death in Texas. The first part of the course reviews the principles of language contact and the different results of language shift (Thomason 2003, Wolfram 2003, Clyne 2004, Trudgill 2004). The second part of the course is concerned with theoretical constructs used to describe and analyze the different linguistic mechanisms and socio-political causes underlying language contact and death around the world (Gal 1984, Fishman 1985, Dorian 1989, Sasse 1992, Crystal 2001). The third part of the course applies the models discussed in the first two parts of the course to the description and analysis of Texas German, an endangered dialect that will go extinct within the next 30 years (see First, we review older analyses of Texas German in order to understand the structure of Texas German as it was spoken fifty years ago. Then, we learn how to conduct linguistic field interviews. Starting with a controlled environment of informants (room mates, relatives, friends), students learn how to elicit data using lists of English words, phrases, and sentences. Then, students are taken by the instructor on a fieldtrip where they observe and conduct linguistic interviews with some of the remaining speakers of Texas German. During the fourth part of the course we analyze the field recordings and compare relevant morphological, phonological, and syntactic properties of Texas German with data recorded six decades ago. Finally, students identify a particular linguistic phenomenon in Texas German that they want to analyze and describe its distribution among the data they have collected. No knowledge of German required. This course is taught in English. All reading materials are in English.

Grading Policy

(1) Homework: 10% (2) Data collection and editing: 20% (3) One in-class presentations of paper or book chapter: 10% (4) Final paper: 60%


Clyne, M. (2003): Dynamics of Language Contact. Cambridge University Press. Nettle, D., and S. Romaine (2000): Vanishing Voices. Oxford University Press. Class Reader


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