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Vanishing Languages

 
 
steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 04:15 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
On the 'language tree' we have High German (old, middle, new) with the 'branches' Franconian, Swabian...

Are not Franconians and Swabians a part of the German nation?
The Columbia Encyclopedia gives the following definition of Franconia:
Quote:
(frngk´n) (KEY) , Ger. Franken, historic region and one of the five basic or stem duchies of medieval Germany, S Germany. The region was included in the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia, becoming in the 9th cent. a duchy and the center of the East Frankish (or East German) kingdom. It stretched from the western bank of the Rhine eastward along both banks of the Main and included the cities of Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Frankfurt, Würzburg, and Fulda. The name of the duchy survives in three administrative districts of Bavaria.
Lower Franconia, Ger. Unterfranken, 3,277 sq mi (8,487 sq km), is a hilly region in NW Bavaria, famous for the forested Spessart hills. It is traversed by the Main River. Agriculture is widely pursued, and industry is centered at Würzburg (the region's capital), Schweinfurt, and Aschaffenburg. Bad Kissingen is a noted resort.
Middle Franconia, Ger. Mittelfranken, 2,941 sq mi (7,617 sq km), in N central Bavaria, is a hilly, fertile region located in the Franconian Jura Mts. It is drained by the Altmühl, Rednitz, and Pegnitz rivers. Ansbach is the capital; Nürnberg, Fürth, and Erlangen are important industrial and cultural centers.
Upper Franconia, Ger. Oberfranken, 2,896 sq mi (7,501 sq km), in NE Bavaria, is a hilly, forested region, drained by the Main and Pegnitz rivers. It includes the Frankenwald and the Fichtelgebirge near the Czech border. Bayreuth, the capital, and Bamberg, Coburg, and Hof are the chief cities and industrial centers.

Another source defines Schwabia as follows:
Quote:
Schwabia is an old name for the land, people and culture of most southwestern Germany. Schwabia was bordered by the French on the west, the Alps on the south, the Bavarian Highland on the east and Frankish Germans on the north (refer to map.) Schwabia was once under the rule of a variety of medieval kings. The strongest Kingdon emerged as Wurrtenburg, a kingdom
that existed until 1871 when it was incorporated into the United German Reich.
Schwabia or Wurrtemburg is a hilly and forested area with valleys of vineyards, Orchards and wheat fields. The fabled Black Forest boarders its western edge. The Schwabish-Worrtemburgers, are known for their thrift and craftsmanship. It is a heavily populated province with the well-known cities of Stuttgart and Ulm.

I do not try to prove, Heavens forbid, that you are wrong, but how can it happen that Germans living in such well-known places as Worms, Meinz, Frankfurt am Mein,Bayreuth, Würzburg, Nürnberg, Stuttgart and Ulm could have had in the past some language differing from Hochdeutsch? Does this mean that they belong to some ethnic group later assimilated by Germans?
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:47 am
Im familiar with (and I hope i spell this correctly) Suistzerdeitsch, which is, as I understand the root for the Pennsyfawnische dialect in the US. This dialect hass been actively supported by the" :folk" movement so that its life is being extended by the growth of the Amish community and the acceptance of the dialect by the "english".

i attend Ferssomlings each years just to converse in this dialect and hear about Pa Dutch culture from its Palatinate roots till today.
This dialect, although not in strict sense, in danger of extinction, is being molded into "something else' by greater incorporation of English Phrases and a gentle noodge by uptake of English sentence structure.

It used to be common for the sentence structure to present , in translation, a typical phrase like
"Throw papa down the stairs, his suspenders"

now its quite common to hear the Amish reversing that sentence in "dutch" to have a similar structure as in English.
The incorporation of a lot of four letter words , as the young Amish take on non-farm jobs is one consequence of this evolution
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:48 am
steissd

I was talking about languages, not nations.
Tree of Germanic languages
Germanic languages

et. al. .

BTW: Germany doesn't exist in it's today's forms until 1871.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:58 am
farmerman

The correct spelling would be "Schwiizertüütsch" :wink: (I had to look it up myself).

And 'Pennsylvanian Dutch' (which really isn't Dutch at all), is -as far as I remember - a kind of Tyrolean dialect.
Quote:

Ferhoodled (crazy, mixed up) English is spoken in the Pennsylvania Dutch country, which is often referred to as 'Amish land'. Pennsylvanian Dutch (as the dialect is known) "has nothing to do with Holland, being a corruption of Americanization of Deutch, German" (Hendrickson, p.160). It is an interesting dialect because it goes to extremities trying to fit English words into the word order and syntactical constructions of German. Hendrickson voices the opinion of one local expert: "A combination of broken-English, bad grammar, and grotesque construction accounts for most humor in their speech" (Hendrickson, p.160). http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/LP/amk-form.html
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:39 pm
Walter, that Hendrickson quote is soooo a POS. The PA German Society has seen to the repeated printing of "Dutch" grammars , so that the Anabaptist sects (who were, after all separatists) Their German language and grammar has been flourishing for 3 centuries with countless newspapers and novels and religious tracts.
Of course the Pa German would sound funny translated into English, that was my point. Only recently has the actual grammar (In Pa Dutch ) been changing to accomodate English structure. Its not a "crazy ferhoodled" mix (BTW, ferhoodled is a made up English word from PA "Dutch dinner theaters", Its sort of like Chop-suey).It is a changing dialect with rules of grammar and a unique vocabulary that , like native American, has adopted English words through time, the rate of adoption being based on frequency of contact.
I think that , the paper you quoted from was someones attempt at a paper in "partial fullfillment of class requirememnts" for a language course taught somewhere "NOT NEAR" the Pa Dutch Country, the Anabaptist Research center, or the PA German Society.
The discussions about Cajun/creole , and Native American contributions were also less than correct. These dialects and entire languages have a complex pattern of addition and growth through time.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 11:07 pm
I wonder if this is the same language used by Mennonite communities in different parts of the world.
There are at least 60,000 Mennonites in Mexico. They say they speak "Low Saxon", without changes since the XVII Century (they came here only about 80 years ago).
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 04:41 am
Fbaezer, The Followeres of Menno Simon (Mennonites) have as their basic language, the original dialect as was developed in the "transition" to the original colonies. Since the 1900s, the Mennonites and Amish have moved into Canada Mexico, and all over the US. The languages have , since developed unique localisms , but still the dialect remains intact. It is , however, evolving. We saw some of the Mennonites a few yeaqrs ago near Oaxaca. I could talk to them generally, but they add ed some Spanish words to their pallette.
I did not know that there were that many in Mexico. The Mennonites are not as separatist as the Amish. They accept "outside" influences and dont limit their transport to buggies .
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 05:39 am
This has developed into a very rewarding discussion. Since the topic of dialects has been mentioned, you may all be interested in the following link:
http://coastalguide.com/gullah/

Walter, your input reminded me of a woman with whom I taught, who was Mexican and married to a German professor. She explained to me about the Mayan culture and how the people were very protective of its remnants. Another question comes to mind. Somewhere I read that Ponce de Leon's name was really pronounced Pontha because one of the Castilian kings had a speech impediment. Can't substantiate that, however.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 08:08 am
Thanks, farmerman, for your explanations!

We have here in Germany over the last 14 years a lot of Mennonites coming from former Russia - doesn't sound like "Lower Saxon" at all.

Just as a short note: most German languages are languages, no dialects:
Quote:
There is often considerable difficulty in deciding whether two linguistic varieties are dialects of the same language or two separate but closely related languages; this is especially true of dialects of primitive societies, in which the difference is essentially one of degree. Many decisions regarding dialects versus languages must be arbitrary.

Normally, dialects of the same language are considered to be mutually intelligible, while different languages are not. Intelligibility between dialects is, however, almost never absolutely complete; on the other hand, speakers of closely related languages can still communicate to a certain extent when each uses his own mother tongue. Thus, the criterion of intelligibility is quite relative. In more developed societies, the distinction between dialects and related languages is easier to make because of the existence of standard languages and, in some cases, national consciousness. from: britannica.com
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 08:08 am
Thanks, farmerman, for your explanations!

We have here in Germany over the last 14 years a lot of Mennonites coming from former Russia - doesn't sound like "Lower Saxon" at all.

Just as a short note: most German languages are languages, no dialects:
Quote:
There is often considerable difficulty in deciding whether two linguistic varieties are dialects of the same language or two separate but closely related languages; this is especially true of dialects of primitive societies, in which the difference is essentially one of degree. Many decisions regarding dialects versus languages must be arbitrary.

Normally, dialects of the same language are considered to be mutually intelligible, while different languages are not. Intelligibility between dialects is, however, almost never absolutely complete; on the other hand, speakers of closely related languages can still communicate to a certain extent when each uses his own mother tongue. Thus, the criterion of intelligibility is quite relative. In more developed societies, the distinction between dialects and related languages is easier to make because of the existence of standard languages and, in some cases, national consciousness. from: britannica.com
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 08:11 am
Thanks, farmerman, for your explanations!

We have here in Germany over the last 14 years a lot of Mennonites coming from former Russia - doesn't sound like "Lower Saxon" at all.

Just as a short note: most German languages are languages, no dialects:
Quote:
There is often considerable difficulty in deciding whether two linguistic varieties are dialects of the same language or two separate but closely related languages; this is especially true of dialects of primitive societies, in which the difference is essentially one of degree. Many decisions regarding dialects versus languages must be arbitrary.

Normally, dialects of the same language are considered to be mutually intelligible, while different languages are not. Intelligibility between dialects is, however, almost never absolutely complete; on the other hand, speakers of closely related languages can still communicate to a certain extent when each uses his own mother tongue. Thus, the criterion of intelligibility is quite relative. In more developed societies, the distinction between dialects and related languages is easier to make because of the existence of standard languages and, in some cases, national consciousness. from: britannica.com
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 10:21 am
fbaezer wrote:
I think that, as living creatures, languages born and die.


They don't just live and die, they are also subject to redefinition. I'm curious what standards are used to formally distinguish dialects from languages? I ask because in the Netherlands, Twentish, thus far regarded as a dialect, was declared a language recently (to be more precise: it was declared to be Lower Saxon, if I remember right), which implies certain legal rights and protections etc.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 10:31 am
Ah, I see that Walter just posted something about standards to formally distinguish dialects from languages. But "intelligibility" seems a very problematic measurement. Take Czechs and Slovaks - speakers of two different languages for sure - who can understand each other without much difficulty.

Might even add another example, to really underline how in the end we decide on a day-to-day basis what is a language and what is not: Serbo-Croatian, Serbian, Croatian. What if Croatians suddenly proclaim they speak a separate language, and Croatian linguists start a strenuous search for the proof - like how it happened in the 90s - how long can outsiders then continue to insist they dont, and that Serbo-Croatian is one language? Respectively, how long will it be before the prophecy becomes self-forfilling, and the efforts to promote specifically 'Croatian' words and phrases result in an actual change in language use that will turn Croatian into a separate language even by academic criteria? How many of the current languages have not come into existence like that ...

So ... languages don't just live and die, they merge, converge, transform, split up ... Interesting ...
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 10:49 am
Btw, re serbo-croatian, I learnt at school, this were two different languages, then ...

Quote:
Political events over the last decade have affected how we look at Serbo-Croat. In particular, the use of the term Serbo-Croat to encompass several dialects - and hence, to act as if we are dealing with several dialects of the same language rather than several different languages - has come under fire by many, mostly those with nationalistic interests. From a linguistic point of view, the two variants (in their standard forms) are mutually intelligible, which is one of the main criteria in determining whether one is dealing with dialects or separate languages. The fact that the western variant is written in a version of the Latin alphbet while the eastern uses a version of the Cyrillic alphabet is of little linguistic - but of occasional political - interest. However, speaking for the consideration of these variants as separate languages would be the fact that there are numerous lexical differences between the variants. For example, while the eastern variant uses names of months that have cognates in most west-european languages, the western variant uses neo-slavic terms created in the 19th century: ... ...
from:Serbo-Croatian
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:16 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
BTW: Germany doesn't exist in it's today's forms until 1871.

Of course, I know this. But does this mean that in the middle of 19th century, prior to creation of the German Empire, Prussians, Saxonians and Bavarians spoke different languages, or these were rather local dialects of the same German?
About 1871: unfortunately, Germany does not exist in the borders of the mentioned year now either, its territory was seriously reduced as a result of its having lost the both World Wars. Maas, Memel, Etsch and Belt that marked the ultimate points of its map, are far abroad...
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:19 pm
steissd

They were and are different languages qua definition.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:25 pm
OK, you surely know this better. Well, my negligence of nuances may refer to my having come from the USSR. In the Russian Empire immigrants from any of the German kingdoms or duchys were considered being ethnic Germans (and some historians erroneously added to their number people of Dutch, Danish and Swedish descent).
I just try to understand, hence the following question: does this mean that a tourist or businessman from Dresden visiting Bonn or Frankfurt in, for example, 1850, needed an interpreter to communicate with the local residents?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:27 pm
As said above, steissd, this really has nothing to do with "ethnic" but with language.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:36 pm
One more question: the word "German" pertaining to the language, existed before the German Empire was declared. So, in which kingdoms, princedoms and duchys did the people speak it?
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2003 02:41 pm
Letty wrote:
Somewhere I read that Ponce de Leon's name was really pronounced Pontha because one of the Castilian kings had a speech impediment. Can't substantiate that, however.


I think that's a legend.
Linguistic studies show that during the late XV and the XVI Century -that is, the time of the unification of Spain-, there were diverse ways in pronouncing the c, the s and the z. This is quite documented, since there was no official Spanish spelling at the time, and words were written as they were pronounced. Letters from different conquistadores would systematically have different spellings. The main "th" influence, it seems, comes from Judeo-Sefardí, the version of Spanish spoken by the Jewish community in the XV Century.

Regional evolution of the language standarized one single spelling and two broad sets of pronunciation.
Today, standard Castillian (spoken in Castille, Navarra, Galicia, Catalonia and Valencia) uses "correct ceceo": pronounces "ci" and "ce" as "the", "thi" (with the "thorn" th).
Andalusia, Extremadura, the Canary Islands and the whole of Latin America use "correct seseo": pronounce "ce", "ci" as "se", "si".
Rural zones of Andalusia and Extremadura, and Spanish gypsies, use "incorrect ceceo": pronounce any s before a vowel as "th".
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