German immigrants migrated to Texas in the mid 1800’s, and integrated their culture and language in the generations to follow. Unfortunately, the German language is now dying off with its current generation. As a result of World War One and Two, areas in Texas that taught and conducted business primarily in German switched to the English language. The German dialect quickly fell out of favor, and that caused the language to not be passed on to children of the fifth and sixth generations. Those who spoke German in Texas created a new dialect known as ‘Texas German.’ Texas German is a combination of different influences, often mixing English and different German origins together with a southern twang!
German: Die Kuh ist über die fence gejumpt.
English: The cow jumped over the fence.
Notice the similarities? The words jump and fence make an appearance in both sentences.
German linguistic professor, Hans Boas, at the University of Texas has been working closely with the last generation of Texas German speakers. The youngest speakers are between the ages of 50 and 60. Hans began the Texas German Dialect Project to preserve what little Texas German is still spoken. He has interviewed over 400 German descendants and recorded about 800 hours of interviews to be archived in the Texas German Dialect Project.
Texas Germans also keep their language alive by partaking in different groups and activities to promote their culture. Some join the local German American Society, try out the neighborhood all German choir or even enjoy some friendly competition with German bowling nights!
Why not join Germans from Texas in preserving their language by trying some German classes?