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Bookmark and Share Paper 3430

Heritage Swedish, English, and Textual Space in Rural Communities of Practice
Angela Hoffman and Merja Kytö
44-54 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The aim of the present study is to survey the dynamism of language shift in the use of Heritage Swedish and American English in textual space over a span of 150 years (1850 through 2005). This socio-historical linguistic investigation employs the Communities of Practice framework to understand the social forces associated with variable patterns of bilingualism in Lutheran congregations. Analysis is performed on texts written by groups of parishioners, namely by members of parish councils and by cookbook committees, in four Midwestern Swedish-American churches. Dimensions of time, localities, and demographics are examined in observing the patterns in the writers' production of texts in dual languages. Extant evidence from the parish cookbooks reveals that most of the contents were written in English at an earlier stage than were the annual meeting minutes of the parish councils. In two of the congregations investigated, annual minutes were written in Swedish for more than sixty years. Despite the relatively early shift to English by the cookbook committees in all four parishes, the committees nonetheless promoted the use of Swedish lexis in the names of recipes, particularly in the second half of the 1900s. The cookbook committees thus preserved components of Heritage Swedish long after the documents written by parish councils had switched to English. The dynamism of the language shift in the four local congregations is compared to the previous research carried out on the national level of the Swedish-American Lutheran church.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Immigrant Languages in the Americas (WILA 8)
edited by Jan Heegård Petersen and Karoline Kühl
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00