Danish Voices in the Americas – University of Copenhagen

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Danish Voices in the Americas

The 4-year research project 'Danish Voices in the Americas' aims at describing Danish as it was, and is, spoken by Danish emigrants in the USA and in Argentina. We will record descendants of the emigrants and digitalize older recordings, all of it with the aim of finding differences between Mainland Danish and Danish in North and South America. This project is made possible by generous funding by the A.P. Møller Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation and the University of Copenhagen.

USA and Argentina were the main goals for the Danish emigration. However, the countries provided the Danish immigrants with different living conditions and the migrants entered the countries with different objectives, not least with regard to integration and assimilation. These differences set the stage for the language change that Danish has undergone under the influence of English and Spanish, respectively. Apart from the extralinguistic (i.e. socioeconomic, sociopolitical, language attitudes etc.) factors, the language contact situation differs with regard to the genetic and typological relationship between the closely related languages Danish and English on the one hand, and Danish and Spanish (far more distantly related) on the other. We investigate Danish in the USA based on different data collections that together form a linguistic corpus with a diachronic span from 1966 to 2001, containing the speech of ca. 350 Danish Americans with the oldest speaker born in 1870 and the youngest ca. 100 years later. Although Danish emigrants in the years 1890-1930 founded self-confident ethnic and cultural Danish communities on the Argentinean pampa south of Buenos Aires and Danish still is spoken there today, we hardly know anything about if and how the language have changed. 'Danish Voices' is the first research project that aims at a systematic documentation and description of the Danish language in Argentina, and we hope to fulfill our quest before it is too late. 

'Danish Voices in the Americas' has its theoretical roots in, and simultaneously contributes to, sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, language sociology and migration research.

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