Conversations with Swedish Americans

with Benjamin Lyngfelt, University of Gothenburg in collaboration with Henrietta Adamsson Eryd and Ida Larsson

Tue, December 2, 2014 | BUR 337

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, more than a million Swedes left Sweden to start a new life in the United States. This means that a large proportion of the Swedish-speaking world at that time were actually living in America. Many of these Swedish Americans maintained their native language and some passed it on to their children. As can be expected, those who acquired and maintained the Swedish language became fewer with each generation, and there is now little left of the Swedish-speaking communities of a century ago.

Nevertheless, rare as it may be, American Swedish is still a live variety, and there are more Swedish-speaking Americans around than one might think. It is also a somewhat understudied variety, and most of what we do know about it stems from older data. Therefore, a group of Swedish linguists have recently undertaken a number of field trips to the US to record present-day American Swedish.

We will present some of the findings from these trips, both regarding structural properties and the sociolinguistic situation of American Swedish. We will also add an interactional perspective, addressing issues such as code-switching and repairs in conversation.

Sponsored by: Sponsored by the Department of Germanic Studies and the Texas Language Center.

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