A separate and peculiar people -fieldwork and the Pennsylvania Germans

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Abstract

The following is an account of fieldwork experience in the Old Order Mennonite community of Waterloo County, Ontario. The language spoken here is Pennsylvania German and this paper focuses on methodological and ethical challenges that arise for any linguist wanting to study this language in its natural setting. This is a close-knit, ultra-conservative and deeply religious speech community, specifically one that wants to remain apart from the outside world. Even the issue of language survival does not give the linguist a natural role to play. Formal maintenance efforts are not in demand. Pennsylvania German is a language that has been holding its own for nearly 400 years and it is the humble, separate and ‘peculiar’ existence of these speakers that holds the key to the continued existence of this language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalSTUF - Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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