Do people speak german in new braunfels?

Despite the 5,000 mile distance from New Braunfels to Deutschland, many locals have appreciated and continued to practice the German language. Many older residents speak fondly of a time when most families grew up speaking German in their homes (often a unique dialect known as “Texas German”). Texas German was descended from a group of dialects spoken by the first German-speaking settlers in Texas. Texas German is a mix of the dialects spoken by the original immigrants, combined with English and some changes in natural language over time.

It's not a single dialect, it's spoken differently in different areas of Texas. If you visited Shelby, Texas, you would see something unusual or, more specifically, you would hear something unusual. It is known as Little Germany because there are many people in the city who have German as their mother tongue. In 1957, Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung, 105, became one of the last newspapers in Texas to switch from German to English.

Boas's book on the language, The Life and Death of Texas German, describes the German dialects that may have been the source of the language spoken in Texas. Within a few years, the Germans proved to be such an ingenious and productive group that, in 1843, the Republic of Texas demanded that all laws be published in German along with English. An ongoing study has found that most of the descendants of German immigrants in Texas are not primarily classified as Americans or Texans or even as Americans of German origin. The disappearance of a dialect may not be as dramatic, but with the disappearance of Texas German, one of the main ethnic groups that helped shape the state's culture will no longer have a distinguishable voice.

Approximately two hundred people tune in each week to the one-hour online radio program German Music Texas Style, which is recorded in a small studio in New Braunfels. The authors of the Linguistic Atlas of Texas German (1997) (Glenn Gilbert) and The Life and Death of the Texas German (200) (Hans Boas). While most traditional languages in the United States disappear in the third generation, Texas German is unusual, as most German Texans continued to speak German in their homes and communities for several generations after settling in the state. Beyond terminology, probably the biggest differences between Standard German and Texas German, the ones that a German parodies, if so inclined, are the sound and structure of the vernacular.

Standard American German words were generally invented, introduced from other German dialects in the region, or loanwords were introduced in English for words that were not present in 19th century German. Texas German is spoken by people who grew up speaking German in Texas (or who learned German at a very young age). Some of the words are pronounced differently from standard German, with atypical vocal sounds and r sprouting from the lower part of the throat. Previous students even founded their own similar projects, documenting Texas Czech, Texas Polish, and Indiana German.

Boas's efforts have attracted his attention so much that he has become a celebrity among Texas Germans. Gillespie County, with the communities of Fredericksburg, Harper, Stonewall and Luckenbach, has a German-speaking population of 2,270 people, 11.51% of the county's total. In their program, the presenters do not speak in standard German but in Texas German, so theirs is the only regular radio program that broadcasts in this dialect.

Lyle Wilburn
Lyle Wilburn

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