Heritage Languages Diluted by English

Clark   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 10:42 GMT
In North America, there are groups of people who have traditionaly not spoken English as their mother tongue. The most noteable groups are the Québecois, the Acadians, the Cajuns, and my personal favourite, the Pensylvania Germans.

Ever since I have started learning about dialects of standard languages, I have become increasingly interested in the way that these dialects begin to use more and more words from the language of the people around the dialect speakers. If one takes a look at each of the languages spoken by these different groups, one will notice that there have been many English loanwords. I find it really amazing when certain groups will take expressions used in English, and turn them into one word. For example, "elevator shaft" can be turned into "elafaytorschaft" in Pennsylvania German.

I am curious if anyone has given this any thought, and I would like to know of any studies that have been done on the languages spoken by minority groups in North America like the Pennsylvania Germans. Has anyone heard of anything like this? Any interesting websites? Or does anyone come from one of these types of groups? What is your linguistic take on the matter?
Bayou Rover   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 18:26 GMT
Cajuns are natives of Louisiana who are descended from the French colonists exiled from Acadia, Canada, in the 18th century so that's why they speak French.

Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German mixed with some English that is spoken in eastern parts of Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Pennsylvania Dutch is spoken by about 70,000 people.
Bayou Rover   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 18:34 GMT
Languages of North America:
Current status of indigenous languages:
• About 200 indigenous languages spoken in North America.
• Approximately 60 separate language families.
• Many languages have become extinct, and many more are
endangered, because more and more Native American children are
learning English as their first language.
Some statistics:
• About one third of the 300 or so North American languages originally
spoken before European settlers landed in America (about 100
languages) have become extinct – are no longer spoken. When every
living speaker of a language dies, the language becomes extinct.
Of the languages still spoken today:
• Only about 11% of languages are still being spoken by children as
their first language.
• About 17% are still spoken by the parental generation, but not usually
spoken by the children.
• About 40% are spoken only by the grandparents’ generation.
• About 32% are spoken only by a few elderly people.
This is a very common phenomenon throughout the world – members of a
minority language group often adopt the language of the politically
dominant group in order to gain social and economic advantages. This
happens both to indigenous languages and to immigrant languages.
Colonialism and similar situations of political dominance have caused
English and a few other languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin
Chinese) to dominate other languages.

It is not necessary to reject one’s native language in order to adopt a new
language. Many if not most societies in the world are multilingual, and
multilingualism is normal and natural given the right social circumstances.
Why is the U.S. predominantly monolingual?
Why are Native American communities becoming more monolingual in
English, and less bilingual?
1. For several generations, the education system enforced an English-only
policy in schools and discouraged the use of indigenous languages in school.
Children were ridiculed and punished for speaking their native language.
Only in the past 25 years or so have schools started to move more towards
bilingual education and tolerance of diversity.
2. Many young people view the languages of their grandparents as oldfashioned
and impractical. English is viewed as the key to economic
This has happened not only in many Native American communities, but also
in many immigrant communities in the U.S.
Efforts have been made by language planners, educators, linguists, and
communities to save or revive certain languages.
Example: Mohawk, an Iroquoian language
Mohawk has about 3000 speakers in upstate New York, and Quebec,
Village of Caughnawaga in Quebec
In the mid 1970’s, teachers in the village began an intensive bilingual
education program in grades K-6 to revitalize the Mohawk language.
During Mohawk classes, no English is spoken, and children are able to learn
the language fluently within a few years. The program has been very
successful in this community, and adults are also taking classes in Mohawk.
Similar programs in many other communities have enjoyed less success.
The success of such efforts depends largely on the attitude of the people in
the community. They must view both languages as practical and valuable
for a bilingual situation to be maintained.
Bayou Rover   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 18:38 GMT
Departing from St. Malo in Brittany, explorer Jacques Cartier crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Eastern Canada. Navigating up the St. Lawrence River, he stopped off at an island that he designate Le Mont Royal, which later became Montreal. Although Cartier had claimed the island upon his arrival, it was not formally settled by the French until 1642. French fur trappers followed Cartier's route, establishing Quebec as a trading post.
The French ceded Canada to the British, beginning in 1760. Despite this "change of management," Quebec maintained a strong cultural tie to France; as a result, Canada has two official languages: English and French. The tie is even shown in national symbols. The flag of Quebec resembles that of France's kings; the fleur-de-lys symbol represents the royal emblem of France, and the province's motto--je me souviens -- reminds the Cnadians to remember their French heritage.
When France ceded Canada to the British, the British deported the French colonists to the southern colonies. When Britan took over the province of Acadia (Nova Scotia, under British naming), the Acadians fled south to French Louisiana, named for King Louis XIV. Over time, the name "Acadian" was bastardized into the word "Cajun."
The French held Louisiana until 1803, when Napoleon, seeking money for France, sold the territory to the United States as part of the "Louisiana Purchase." French tradition lives on in the area of New Orleans known as the "French Quarter." Even today, some areas of the United States have French names, among them, Detroit, founded the Marquis de Cadilac; Fort Des Moines in Iowa and the city of Baton ROuge in Louisiana. The world famous "Mardi-Gras" celebration is a form of the Carnevale of Nice..
Bayou Rover   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 18:40 GMT
Bayou Rover   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 19:08 GMT
There are/were several kinds of French spoken in Louisiana: Cajun French,
creole French (now to my knowledge extinct), and Gombo (spoken by people of
African/African descent). Cajun French is still spoken fairly widely in
Acadiana, and Cajun English is certainly colored by Cajun French, but I
wouldn't call it a patois of Spanish and "African"--although it may have
loan words.
About Acadian Language:
The first colonists who settled in Acadia spoke French. As time progressed, those people interacted with the Mi'kmaq and the English, as well as other Europeans. It is no wonder that many non-French words came to be included in the Acadian dialect. It has evolved into its own separate dialect, rather than a regional version of French. Today, one will find examples of both English and Mi'kmaq words in Acadian speech, as well as certain American words from the Deep South.

It is difficult to know what the language of early Acadians really was. Language is an evolving thing. Very few early Acadians were literate, and those who were were often educated in Quebec, so their writing reflected the French spoken in Quebec. The priests were educated in France and later Quebec. After the Expulsion, when Acadians became dispersed, their language changed in response to their surroundings. Today's Cajun dialect from Louisiana is a direct descendant of the Acadian tongue.

I hope all information that I mentioned are enough.
Clark   Sunday, June 29, 2003, 22:24 GMT
Bayou River, you are preaching to the choir. That is, if you are giving all of this information to me.

I am interested in how languages evolve because another language has pushed it to do so. Do you have any personal experiences with this type of language evolution?

Kannscht du Mekke fonge?
Clark   Monday, June 30, 2003, 03:33 GMT
Has anyone heard anything about Joual?

I have become really interested in the farming culture of the French Canadians; does anyone one know of any books about farming in French Canada? Specifially, I would like to know if there are any books telling true stories in a sort of fictional account (sort of like what Laura Ingalls Wilder did in "Farmer Boy").

I also spoke to a man from Quebec some time ago, and he said that he did a French immersion programme (he is an Anglo-Quebecer), and when he went to live on a farm in rural Quebec, he has to "re-learn" the French that was spoken on the farm. Does anyone have any stories like this, or know of any sites about the French spoken in rural Canada?
Bayou Rover   Monday, June 30, 2003, 05:26 GMT
Joual is a nonstandard, mainly urban dialect of Canadian French containing many English words. It is also spoken in parts of Maine.
I believe that the word “Joual” came from the French word “cheval” meaning horse, indicating farming environments, I think.

The dominant agricultural activity in French Canada is dairying. And the best area form dairy farming in French Canada is in the upstream part of the St. Lawrence Valley and the Eastern Townships.
Bayou Rover   Monday, June 30, 2003, 05:46 GMT
There is a book called "The Tale of Teeka" or "L'Histoire de l'Oie" written by Michel Marc Bouchard. The book originally stands for a play mentioning life at rural Quebec in the fifties.
Clark   Monday, June 30, 2003, 05:47 GMT
Es-tu Cajun, Bayou Rover ? Ou peut-etre canadien ?
Bayou Rover   Monday, June 30, 2003, 06:57 GMT
Mon père est Cajun mais ma mère est canadienne.
Toute autre chose je peux vous aider avec le Canada environ français, parce que j'habite à Montréal. Mais mon Français n'est pas très bon.
Clark   Monday, June 30, 2003, 07:06 GMT
C'est intéressant.

I just found out that I am a lot more English than I thought I was! Really neat!

Anyways, the farming culture has always fascinated me. And recently, I have become interested in farming in Canada and places where a lot of Francophones and Anglophones were at, forced together for whatever reason.

I just wish that there were some cases written down in book or on the net about different speech patterns of people who were around French and English today, and of yester year.

Well, I am off to bed, mon ami.
Bayou Rover   Monday, June 30, 2003, 15:51 GMT
Clark, êtes-vous français?
Quoi qu'il en soit, bon je voudrais aider à trouver ces histoires. Je peux aller à la bibliothèque et obtenir quelques noms mais je ne suis pas sûr si je peux donner des websites pour eux.
penschulvania dutch or penschulvania ger   Monday, June 30, 2003, 17:45 GMT
penschulvania links words together because that is how words can be linked together in dutch , probably also in german . it is not something that has originated from the dialect itself.