What is Texas German?


What is Texas German?

What is Texas German? Any guesses? Is it simply Germans, who live in Texas? Or is people who speak German with a bit of a Texas accent? No! There is more to it than that. Texas German is more than just a language. It is own culture and enjoys a rich history.

The Texas German dialect comes from a group of dialects spoken by the early German-speaking settlers who arrived in Texas between 1830 and 1900. It is spoken by people who grew up speaking German in Texas (or learned German at a very early age). Although few may know of this German dialect and culture, it is not only a part of the fabric of Texas, but it also an interesting piece in the tapestry of American history.

Today, there are only about 5,000 speakers left and the majority of them are over 70 years old. Sadly, Texas German is expected to die out by 2035. However, there is a special language project that aims to preserve the Texas German culture, history and language. It is “The Texas German Dialect Project” (TGDP) at the Department of Germanic Studies and Linguistics Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1940 there were about 160,000 Texas German speakers. Unfortunately, due to anti-German sentiment and English-only laws people did not pass German onto their children. Plus, with improved roads and transportation, it made it easier for non-German speakers to move into German-speaking areas and vice versa. This combination led to a sharp decline in the number of Texas German speakers.

Part of this project is “The Texas German Dialect Archive” (TGDA). It contains over 1,000 hours of interviews with over 700 Texas Germans from 46 counties with transcriptions and translation. I also recommend that you not only listen to the dialect under the “Dialect Archive” tab, but also click on the “Texas German” tab and scroll down to “The History of Texas German” section. Very interesting!

Here are links for you to explore further:

Texas German Dialect Project – University of Texas at Austin (Watch the embedded video!)

Texas German Dialect Project – main site (Click on “Texas German Resources” for more information!)

Texas Germans and German in Texas

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts about this topic! Please share below in the comment section!

Mach’s gut!

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