Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bidialectalism in intense language variety contact: An “unexpected” development in the death of Pennsylvania Dutchified English
by Anderson, Vicki Michael, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2011, 365; 3488021
Abstract (Summary)

Pennsylvania Dutchified English (PDE), a dialect spoken in south central Pennsylvania, is in its last stages as a viable variety of American English. The result of centuries of contact between speakers of several English varieties and Pennsylvania German, the dialect is undergoing rapid erosion and will undoubtedly die out within the next 60-70 years. As PDE is approaching extinction, however, a certain "unexpected" class of speakers has emerged: bidialectals who use both PDE and the regional standard, South Central Pennsylvania English (SCPE). Such speakers have been assumed to be non-existent, even logically impossible, but this study presents evidence to the contrary. This study chronicles the demise of PDE and examines the linguistic behaviors of one bidialectal speaker of PDE and SCPE.

This study presents an overview of PDE in terms of its development, its language features, and its shifting sociolinguistic context. With a focus on five specific phonological features of PDE to illustrate the particulars of the language loss over generations of PDE speakers, this study shows how PDE is "unraveling" among its last generation of speakers. Using frequency counts and a variationist approach, this study illustrates the demise of those five features.

This study then turns to a description of the PDE-SCPE bidialectalism that has arisen among PDE's last generation of speakers. Ethnographic and linguistic data for one representative bidialectal shows how she meets all requirements for bidialectalism and suggests that she has chosen bidialectalism in order to move competently in two worlds with conflicting demands. The study concludes by proposing criteria for bidialectalism that are more appropriate in situations of intense language variety contact.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Auger, Julie
Commitee: Davis, Stuart, Hartford, Beverly, Obeng, Samuel G.
School: Indiana University
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Sociolinguistics
Keywords: Bidialectalism, Language death and maintenance, Language obsolescence, Obstruent devoicing, Pennsylvania Dutchified English, Pennsylvania German English
Publication Number: 3488021
ISBN: 978-1-267-07783-7
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