The Amish: A Distinctive Cosmos Serving Well For A Philological Dualism

  • Şakire Erbay Karadeniz Technical University
Keywords: the Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch, Old Order Amish, language maintenance, diglossia, bilingualism

Abstract

The success of the Amish in maintaining their ancestral language until now has been well-documented in the related literature, and the arguments about this maintenance sound not to dry up any time soon. At the heart of the existing discussions stand the questions of how and to what extent they have managed to protect their language. The present theoretical commentary serves as an explanatory account of this distinctive issue. To that end, without going into much detail , the author first sets the initial stage by providing a description of the Amish society, a short historical background, and general information on their life, including social structure, religion, education, and language. The author finds this input necessary to foster the understanding of the Amish success of language maintenance in its entirety. Then, she provides the readers with the possible reasons which oil the wheels of this distinguishing success when compared to other minority languages that died in the U.S: their diglossic nature, isolation, religious affinity, resisting mainstream education, special language teaching materials, and the strict stance of both teachers and parents. Furthermore, she draws a paradoxical picture of this success story, in the sense that she provides the readers with some changes in this society that have the potential to turn this success into a failure: interest in non-farming jobs, temptation of higher education, their attempt to make religion manageable, evangelism, curriculum change, and tourism. This dual picture as a whole serves well to analyze the underlying reasons for this distinctive language surviving story. A well-organized combination of different voices from a wide spectrum of sources forms the ground of this commentary, and the author accepts the limitation of the paper, in that it can only give a partial view of what may be the tip of a large iceberg of this success story.

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Published
2013-12-31
How to Cite
Erbay, Şakire. (2013). The Amish: A Distinctive Cosmos Serving Well For A Philological Dualism. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 1(1). Retrieved from http://nalans.com/index.php/nalans/article/view/2
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Articles