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Institute of German Studies Shwitzer

Variation in Amish Shwitzer

Start/End: 01.02.2024 - 31.01.2028

PI: Prof. Dr. Guido Seiler

PhD student: Tobias Frick (MA)

The project "Variation in Amish Shwitzer" (2024-2028) is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The goal of the project is to describe the contact-induced variation found in Amish Shwitzer, a speech island (Sprachinsel) with roots in Bernese German that has been in ongoing language and dialect contact for centuries. Two main topics will be researched in this project. On the one hand, the focus lies on the child language acquisition process in a language contact situation. On the other, intergenerational and interpersonal differences in geographically separated communities with different contact settings will be investigated. The variation found today is a product of long-lasting language contact between different Germanic varieties (mainly Pennsylvania German and English) and Bernese German. Today, Shwitzer is acquired as first language and spoken by a fast-growing Amish community in Adams County, Indiana, as well as in several neighbouring counties.

The project follows up the research of "Amish Shwitzer as a mixed language with closely related parents" (2020-2022), another project guided by Prof. Dr. Guido Seiler at the University of Zurich. Involved were Dr. Anja Hasse as a postdoc, Coralie Aschwanden (MA) and Tobias Frick (MA). The aim of this project was to describe the (morpho-)syntactical system of Amish Shwitzer, by looking into the archaisms and innovations of Amish Shwitzer and finding the sources for them.

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