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Pella Dutch

Portrait of a Language in an Iowa Community

Philip E. Weber

Publication Year: 2011

Founded in 1847 by religious separatists, the town of Pella in central Iowa is the state’s oldest Dutch American colony, and its crafts, architecture, and celebrations reflect and perpetuate the Dutch heritage of its earlier residents. Through his intriguing blend of sociolinguistic research, regional history, and interviews with current speakers of Pella Dutch, Philip Webber examines the town’s rich cultural and linguistic traditions.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Series: Bur Oak Books

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xxvi

TWO years before preparing this revision, I attended the one hundredth birthday celebration of the oldest speaker of Pella Dutch with whom I currently enjoy active contact. The centenarian regaled us with the singing, from memory, of favorite Dutch Psalms. A few guests commented that the texts were familiar and that their rendition was powerfully evocative of what they had heard in earlier years. Several embellished their birthday wishes...

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pp. xxvii-xxix

THE purpose of this study is to present the fruits of close to a decade's research in which language was not merely a tool, but rather the thematic focus of investigation by a participant-observer into the life of one of Iowa's major ethnic communities. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the archival and historical research attendant...

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PART ONE: The People

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pp. 1-35

AT the time of the 1980 census, Iowa claimed the highest percentage of residents with Dutch ancestry (6.5 percent) of any state. True, a number of other states boast of older settlements, or of larger overall Dutch-American populations than Iowa's 188,357 residents with roots in the Netherlands. None, however, may point to as great a relative current impact by the Dutch on overall...

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PART TWO: The Culture

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pp. 37-68

WHILE many of the following recollections, observations, and excerpts from the historical record might as easily appear in an ethnographic monograph or even in a work of popular history (rather than in a strictly linguistic study), no section of this book is more important to an understanding of how Pella's Dutch-Americans have...

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PART THREE: The Language

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pp. 69-98

EVEN in a primarily sociolinguistic study, one must eventually address the question of just which form of a language is spoken in the community under investigation. Does Pella Dutch appear to have maintained any forms that have lost currency in the Netherlands, or to have witnessed the development of unusual or characteristic...

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PART FOUR: Conclusion

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pp. 99-103

WHILE the general process of linguistic acculturation to the dominant norm is a well-attested phenomenon in the history of America's countless ethnic enclaves, the specific details of the situation in Pella are unique and deserve to be recorded not only in lingustic literature, but also (and not least of all) in a manner that makes them accessible to members of that community who may someday...

Appendix A

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pp. 105-114

Appendix B

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pp. 115-136


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pp. 137-152


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pp. 153-158


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pp. 159-163

E-ISBN-13: 9781609380663
E-ISBN-10: 1609380665
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609380656
Print-ISBN-10: 1609380657

Page Count: 196
Illustrations: 12 photos,1 map, 1 drawing, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: expanded
Series Title: Bur Oak Books