When many people from different nations left Europe for North America during the so-called "Age of Mass Migration" (1850-1920s), a great number of Swiss also left their homeland in search of betterment in North America. The Swiss colony New Glarus in Wisconsin, which was founded in 1845, has retained its Swiss identity until today. Based on recordings made in the 1960s of heritage speakers born as early as the late 1900s (now held in the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, Madison, Wisconsin), this paper investigates what happened to selected Glarner dialect features, notably phonological and lexical variables, in the diaspora, i.e., in the New Glarus dialect. To this purpose, the New Glarus recordings were compared to Glarus homeland data that is held in the Zurich Phonogrammarchiv and to the Kleiner Sprachatlas der deutschen Schweiz. The comparison of heritage and homeland data, combined with socio-historical information on New Glarus, revealed that contact (a) with the Bernese dialect in the diaspora, (b) with High German through schooling, and (c) with the majority language English did leave an imprint on the heritage dialect in comparison to the homeland dialect.
Selected Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Immigrant Languages in the Americas (WILA 8)
edited by Jan Heegård Petersen and Karoline Kühl
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