Edited by Raymond Hickey
[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 10] 2019
Chapter 2. Wisconsin immigrant letters
German transfer to Wisconsin English
This chapter outlines German transfer to Wisconsin English based on the analysis of ego-documents written by German immigrants and their descendants to Wisconsin in the nineteenth century. The analysis of 111 letters from four generations of a German-American family revealed 450 instances indicative of German transfer to English. Using these documents, we show how native German speakers learning English transferred German-like features and structures (phonological, syntactic, and semantic transfer) to their English and how some of these transfers remain in the regional English today. This is supplemented by an additional 101 letters from another family and their acquaintances in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These additional documents exhibit similar patterns of transfer, indicating that the transfer is not due to regional differences, but likely due to other factors such as generational language shift.
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