Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

1/1/2006 - 12/31/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Language Change in the Texas German Community

FAIN: FA-52000-05

Hans C. Boas
University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX 78712-0100)

This book presents an analysis of the factors leading to language change and language death in the Texas German community. Based on data from the 1960s as well as 80 hours or recordings of sociolinguistic interviews I conducted in 2002, I show how rapidly Texas German has been eroding over the past four decades. With this assessment, I analyze the causes of language shift from Texas German to English in the Texas German community, and place the results in the context of other cases of language death in the United States and abroad.

Associated Products

The life and death of Texas German (Book)
Title: The life and death of Texas German
Author: Hans C. Boas
Abstract: This volume presents the first major study of Texas German as spoken in the twenty-first century, focusing on its formation and the linguistic changes it has undergone. This New World dialect, formed more than 150 years ago in German communities in central Texas, is an unusual example of a formerly high-status dialect that declined for sociopolitical reasons. An important case study for dialect research, Texas German is now critically endangered and will probably be extinct by 2050. By comparing and contrasting present-day data with data from the German dialects brought to Texas since the 1840s, the volume offers an in-depth analysis of mutual interaction between the German-speaking community and English-speaking Texans, long-term accommodation of Texas German speakers in this new community, and language hybridization on the Texas frontier. The volume also analyzes a number of phonological, syntactic, and morphological changes in Texas German over the past century and examines sociolinguistic aspects of the Texas German community from its foundation to today, providing insight into the dynamics underlying new-dialect formation, diglossia, language shift, language maintenance, and language death. Finally, the volume investigates the rapid disappearance of languages, which has global social and cultural implications for areas beyond linguistics.
Year: 2009
Primary URL:
Publisher: Duke University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780822367161


Leonard Bloomfied Book Award
Date: 1/20/2012
Organization: Linguistic Society of America
Abstract: The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award to The Life and Death of Texas German, by Hans Boas (Duke University Press, 2009). This masterful work combines a sociolinguistic analysis of the phonological, morphological, and syntactic developments in the German spoken in New Braunfels, Texas, with a study of the larger socio-historical context that framed these developments. Written lucidly and accessibly, the book contributes significantly to the understanding of the dynamics underlying new-dialect formation, language contact, language change, and language death.