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Language Variation / Language Contact and Language Death / Documentary Linguistics

In September 2001, I founded the Texas German Dialect Project (TGDP) in order to record, archive, and analyze the remnants of Texas German. This endangered dialect will become extinct within the next 25-30 years. To date, I have interviewed more than 350 speakers of Texas German. The recordings, together with their transcriptions and translations, are stored in the web-based multi-media Texas German Dialect Archive after being processed by a web-based set of tools I developed between 2002-2005. My research on Texas German has been honored with a one-year fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as the Hugo-Moser Prize for Germanic Linguistics from the Institut für Deutsche Sprache (“Institute for the German Language”) in Mannheim (Germany). For the 2009 TGDP-newsletter, click here. My latest book The Life and Death of Texas German was published with Duke University Press in 2009. This book is the winner of the 2011 Leonard Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistic Society of America, for the “most outstanding contribution to the development of our understanding of language and linguistics.” Currently I am working on two book projects in this area of research: (1) a frame-semantic analysis of discourse markers in Texas German. Based on a corpus of more than 300,000 words, this project aims to identify the specific semantic and pragmatic factors that determine the contexts in which English-based discourse markers get borrowed into Texas German and German-origin discourse markers are retained in Texas German. (2) A detailed study of Texas German substrate effects in Texas Hill Country English. This study aims to determine the effects of more than 150 years of language contact on the English varieties spoken in the Texas Hill Country.