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Tracking Swedish-American English: A Longitudinal Study of Linguistic Variation and Identity
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2003 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The large-scale Swedish immigration to the American Midwest beginning in the mid-1800s is the sociolinguistic backdrop for this book. The focus of the study is the variety of English spoken by elderly Swedish immigrants and elderly Swedish Americans. In addition to tracing different patterns of Swedish settlement in rural and urban areas to establish how social history affects different types of language contact, the investigation examines how the majority language-English-was influenced by Swedish over many decades. Data were transcribed from seventy-two speakers recorded in oral history interviews from 1959 to 1998. The main material consists of interviews with elderly persons who have lived in Swedish-American communities for all of their adult years. Data from these speakers are compared to the speech of persons who have experienced relatively little language contact: Swedes who remained in their home region in Dalarna, and monolingual speakers of American English from a small community in Kansas. Special attention in the linguistic analysis is devoted to features of syntax and pragmatics. Relative clause structures are investigated to examine how language contact has influenced speakers' strategies in syntactic subordination. Another special focus in the book is pragmatic particles, such words and phrases as you know, well, so, and ja. Analysis of the interviews reveals that elderly male Swedish immigrants as a group use these items more frequently than other speakers. Explanations for this linguistic phenomenon take into account the speakers' syntactic remodelling of English as well as their use of Swedish-influenced English to highlight their social identity. A longitudinal study of two individuals, who have been interviewed several times over a thirty-year interval, examines the socio-symbolic aspects of Swedish-American English. Bilingual individuals have the option of using different parts of their linguistic repertoire, depending on which aspect of their identity they wish to highlight for their listeners. The study thus examines hybridized Swedish and English linguistic features in conversational interaction. Finally, it examines Swedish-American English in jokes and literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Uppsala , 2003. , xvi, 262 p.
Studia multiethnica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0282-6623 ; 16
Keyword [en]
language contact, Swedish migration to America, language and identity, linguistic variation, longitudinal studies, relativization, pragmatic particles
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-83737ISBN: 91-554-5793-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-83737DiVA: diva2:111645

Angela Hoffman

Available from: 2006-11-09 Created: 2006-11-09 Last updated: 2016-03-22

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