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Variation and Change in American Swedish

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Abstract

This chapter surveys variation and change in Swedish spoken in America. We compare data from a corpus of American Swedish collected in Minnesota 2011 with material collected in the 1960s. Linguistic change in American Swedish can partly be accounted for in terms of koinéization. Marked dialect features seem to have disappeared quickly from American Swedish, but we can also observe dialect mixing and simplifications in, e.g., the pronominal system. At the same time, Swedish has been lost in the public domain, and there is considerable variation between speakers even with the same dialect background. It can also be noted that some speakers (even those that have Swedish as a first language) now have linguistic features that are otherwise typical of second language learners. We attribute this to the loss of Swedish-speaking communities, but view it as features of language learning rather than attrition. The paper concludes that it is mainly in the lexicon that American Swedish stands out. This variety of Swedish has its roots in a koiné situation of speakers of different Swedish dialects living together, but also includes language-contact traits from English

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