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Working to preserve a historic dialect (Texas German)
Star-Telegram ^ | 8-26-07 | R.A. Dyer

Posted on 08/26/2007 2:04:22 PM PDT by Dysart

AUSTIN --Although stories of der Cowboy and die Stinkkatze mayno longer get told in Texas, Germanic linguistics professor Hans Boas wants to make sure nobody forgets them.

Boas, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, is the founder and manager of the Texas German Preservation Project. Every month or so Boas ventures forth from his campus office in Austin to small towns like Boerne, Fredericksburg and Crawford to conduct interviews with the dwindling number of old-timers who speak the odd mixture of English and 19th-century German.

It's a dialect unique to the Lone Star State, and most of the 8,000 or so remaining speakers are in their 60s, 70s or 80s. Their numbers are expected to dwindle precipitously over the next few years, and Boas says that by 2040, the dialect will probably be gone.

And so die Stinkkatze -- the Texas German word for skunk -- and der Cowboy will become just a memory.

"The Texas German Dialect Project I started right after I got [to the University of Texas] in September 2001," Boas said. "The main reason was because no one else has been interested in Texas German from an academic point of view. But there are fewer and fewer speakers, and in 30 years it will be gone. I thought it would be a good idea to record the remaining speakers who are left."

Boas says he has interviewed more than 200 Texas German speakers and recorded more than 350 hours of the conversations. Interviewers are typically UT students who ask about childhood memories, games, social interactions -- anything, really, that will get Texas German speakers to provide a window into their lives.

'The culture's legacy'

Boas has preserved audio recordings of these interviews on an Internet database, which also includes video recordings and written text. Besides helping to preserve the dialect, the archive will allow further study of the linguistic features and grammar of Texas German. "It also is important to create a popular account of Texas German to share with local schools, preservation societies and museums -- the dialect is part of the culture's legacy, but it is rapidly eroding," Boas said.

Der Cowboy is Texas German for "cowboy" -- it's basically the English word spoken with a German accent. "Die Stinkkatz" literally means "stinky cat"; that is, it's the Texas German word for "skunk." Boas explains that because there were no skunks in their native country, German immigrants invented their own word.

The word "Luftschiff" is also unique to Texas German -- or at least, it's unique the way Texas German speakers use the term. During a vacation some years back in Germany, New Braunfels resident Bill Moltz used "Luftschiff" to describe his long flight across the Atlantic. For speakers of Texas German, "Luftschiff" means airplane.

But in modern German, "Luftschiff" means "airship." Texas Germans have been using the word since before the invention of the airplane and never updated it to reflect a post-Wright Brothers world.

"I remember people looked at us in Germany like we were nuts -- they said you flew here in a dirigible?" recalls Moltz, 68, still laughing about the incident. "But that's what happened. We use those terms."

Although fewer than 10,000 speakers remain, at one time as much as 20 percent of the Texas population may have spoken the language. Moltz said that many German settlers arrived in Galveston and spread out during the mid-1800s, and now a swath of German communities can be found running north and south down the middle of the state.

The immigrants settled in dozens of towns like Fredericksburg, New Braunfels and Boerne. At one time there were more than 150 German-language newspapers in Texas, and in many towns German was spoken almost exclusively.

Wars brought decline

But the dialect began to fade during World War I, Boas said.

"A little before World War I, there was a big nativist movement in the U.S. and [the idea] was that if you're in the United States, then you better speak English -- there just wasn't a lot of tolerance for people who speak differently," Boas explained.

He said there was another steep decline during World War II and that the last of the monolingual Texas German speakers are pretty much gone. Those who are left -- fifth-generation Texans like Moltz -- spoke the dialect as kids, but also speak English.

The Texas German Dialect Project has been funded through grants, although that funding expired at the end of last year, Boas said. He said it costs about $35,000 a year to maintain the program.

It also accepts contributions though a University of Texas endowment.

"Every time we lose a language, we lose a data set -- if researchers have more data, we can create and test theories about how language works more accurately," Boas said.

Texas German Dialect Project: www.tgdp.org

A different dialect

A sampling of unique Texas German words and their translations in European German and English:

Airplane

das Luftschiff -- Texas German

das Flugzeug -- European German

Blouse

die Taille -- Texas German

die Bluse -- European German

Car

die Car (pronounced Kaa) -- Texas German

das Auto (pronounced otto) -- European German

Little town

die kleine Stadt -- Texas German

das Dorf -- European German

Piano

das Piano -- Texas German

das Klavier -- European German

Truck (semi)

der grosse Truck -- Texas German

der Lastwagen -- European German

Skunk

die Stinkkatze -- Texas German

das Stinktier --European German

Squirrel

die Eichkatze --Texas German

das Eichhörnchen -- European German

Socks

die Strumpf --Texas German

die Sökchen -- European German

Source: Texas German Preservation Project


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Germany; Miscellaneous; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: culture; dialect; german; germanamericans; language; linguistics; texas
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Fifth-generation Texans Alphons Nuhn and Lillian Wunderlich sing a German folk song in New Braunfels.

1 posted on 08/26/2007 2:04:24 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart
The Texas German Dialect Project has been funded through grants, although that funding expired at the end of last year, Boas said. He said it costs about $35,000 a year to maintain the program.

I smell a stinkkatze.

2 posted on 08/26/2007 2:08:17 PM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all.)
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To: Dysart

Cool! I worked with a lady - she’d be in her 60’s now - who grew up speaking Tex-Deutch in Bergheim.


3 posted on 08/26/2007 2:09:34 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Gravity! It's not just a good idea, it's the law!)
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To: Dysart
Die Stinkkatz

I nominate this for the new nickname for the Democrat Party.

On a serious note (actually, I was serious above), I was surprised that so many Germans settled in Texas. I learned that just a year or two ago.

4 posted on 08/26/2007 2:11:38 PM PDT by Hardastarboard (DemocraticUnderground.com is an internet hate site.)
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To: Dysart; martin_fierro; Charles Henrickson

Ich bin ein Texikaner, j’alle...


5 posted on 08/26/2007 2:15:30 PM PDT by mikrofon (Messen Sie nicht mit Texas)
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To: Dysart

Achtung little doggie !

Regards


6 posted on 08/26/2007 2:17:41 PM PDT by ARE SOLE (Agents Ramos and Campean are in prison at this very moment..)
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To: sam_paine

Although fewer than 10,000 speakers remain, at one time as much as 20 percent of the Texas population may have spoken the language. Moltz said that many German settlers arrived in Galveston and spread out during the mid-1800s, and now a swath of German communities can be found running north and south down the middle of the state.

The immigrants settled in dozens of towns like Fredericksburg, New Braunfels and Boerne. At one time there were more than 150 German-language newspapers in Texas, and in many towns German was spoken almost exclusively.

Wars brought decline

But the dialect began to fade during World War I, Boas said.

"A little before World War I, there was a big nativist movement in the U.S. and [the idea] was that if you're in the United States, then you better speak English -- there just wasn't a lot of tolerance for people who speak differently," Boas explained.



Thank goodness for those immigrants, as I love "their" towns, least those I've visited. They look like places from fairy-tales -- beautiful stone homes, old Victorians, beer gardens, wide streets, very clean and orderly. One can sense the love of community and beauty -- they really picked some of the most idyllic settings.

7 posted on 08/26/2007 2:32:07 PM PDT by AnnaZ (I keep 2 magnums in my desk.One's a gun and I keep it loaded.Other's a bottle and it keeps me loaded)
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To: Hardastarboard
I have occasionally heard scraps of info about the German flavor of certain areas of Texas, but I'm a little surprised to learn the language was spoken by as many 20% of Texans at one time, per the article.
8 posted on 08/26/2007 2:34:28 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart
Interesting. From what region of Germany did they come, and when?

We're fighting a similar losing battle here in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, we have a larger remaining population to work with, and some communities who still preserve the language (Amish and Mennonites). Still, it's disappearing rapidly.

9 posted on 08/26/2007 2:35:11 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: Dysart

Same diff in KS, there’s still a large number of people of German ancestry in the area who keep German traditions. Actually, most of the German people here, (including me) are German/Russian, or Volga Germans, or, in the vernacular “Rooshins”. (Is that hate speech?? Can I sue somebody?? Call me, John Edwards!)


10 posted on 08/26/2007 2:40:27 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: Dysart

Over 20 years ago I ate at a small restaurant in New Braunfels called the Log House. It was an old, old log cabin that had been converted into a restaurant by a younger German couple who had just come to the US. The food could not have possibly been any better. Without a doubt the best restaurant I’ve ever visited.


11 posted on 08/26/2007 2:40:34 PM PDT by bereanway
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To: Dysart

Die Stinkkatz,
Die Stinkkatz,
Was sind sie Sie einziehend?

Die Stinkkatz,
Die Stinkkatz,
Es ist nicht Ihre Störung

Via Babelfish translation -- apologies if I butchered the language.

12 posted on 08/26/2007 2:45:30 PM PDT by ReignOfError
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To: AnnaZ
Wenn Deutschland in Texas wäre, würden sie Texaner sprechen! Die Geschichten von Karl May und der Amerikanischen Grenze waren in Deutschland vor den Kriegen sehr populär. Es hat immer eine Faszination mit Amerika unter den Deutschen gegeben. Sogar der verschiedene Dialekt hat ihre amüsanten Eigenschaften. Die Deutsch-Variante von Texas hat seinen eigenen Charme!

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

13 posted on 08/26/2007 2:48:37 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Physicist
An interesting tidbit, posted a few years ago: Prince uncovers 19th-century plot to make Texas German
14 posted on 08/26/2007 2:49:33 PM PDT by RedWhiteBlue
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To: Physicist
I really don’t have any specifics about the German emigration to Texas. Surely there must be some Texas FReepers who have knowledge(or an oral tradition) of their origins, however, my roots are largely from Scotland and Ireland and I just haven’t come across too much info of this group. I’d hoped someone would catch this article and add some more detail/personal history. I do know that there are several communities in the Hill Country that have pockets of Texas-Germans. Incidentally, Fredericksburg was recently listed as one of the best small towns in America.
15 posted on 08/26/2007 2:53:05 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: RedWhiteBlue
NEW BRAUNFELS - A LITTLE BIT OF GERMANY IN THE MIDDLE OF TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

16 posted on 08/26/2007 2:54:13 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: ReignOfError

Here’s the translation-— The Stinkkatz, the Stinkkatz, what are they you taking in? The Stinkkatz, the Stinkkatz, it is not your interference.


17 posted on 08/26/2007 2:54:46 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: mikrofon
Ich bin ein Texikaner, j’alle...

You are a beer? Correct would be "Ich bin Texikaner, j’alle..."

/obscure Kennedy allusion.

18 posted on 08/26/2007 2:55:06 PM PDT by magslinger (Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors. And miss. R.A.Heinlein)
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To: ozzymandus

Interesting.

And watch that hate speech...


19 posted on 08/26/2007 2:56:25 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Physicist

My family came in through Brownsville in the 1860’s, they were from Alsace. Ethnic Germans, but today it is in france. Oddly enough the kids there aren’t speaking German anymore, only french.


20 posted on 08/26/2007 2:56:52 PM PDT by Aruchu (There is no I in team, but there is a M and an E.)
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To: Dysart
Then there's Wurtfest - A Texas celebration of all things sausage - no its not the Oktoberfest, but worth checking out all the same:

WELCOME TO WURTFEST

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

21 posted on 08/26/2007 2:57:39 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop

Thanks for the link, but it doesn’t work for me. Is the festival in the Hill Country?


22 posted on 08/26/2007 3:01:04 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: goldstategop

Now, if someone could just teach people not to call it “New Brownsville.” Drives me nutzo.


23 posted on 08/26/2007 3:03:53 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Dysart

My father is descended from a group of Germans who came from the Volga River in Russia in the late 1800s. In addition to English he spoke a dialect of German called Swabish. During WW II he was in high school and the feds came through and made all of the Roman Catholic nuns start teaching the kids in English. For the most part he had no accent but the kitchen “sink” was always called the “zink”.


24 posted on 08/26/2007 3:06:12 PM PDT by GravityFree (Death is not the end, nor the beginning of the end, but only the end of the beginning.)
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To: Dysart; leda

Squirrel

die Eichkatze —Texas German

das Eichhörnchen — European German

Oarchskatzle - Bayern.

Oarchskaettzleschwarf - Austrian.

German changes every time you cross a hill. I had some ass tell me I can’t speak german, a few months ago, in Germany.

(I am a certified German Linguist)


25 posted on 08/26/2007 3:09:26 PM PDT by patton (Congress would lose money running a brothel.)
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To: patton

How would one say, “it’s all Bush’s fault,” in German?


26 posted on 08/26/2007 3:13:28 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart

*Far a-cross the blue water
Lives an old German’s daughter,
By the banks of the old river Rhine ...
Where I loved her and left her,
But I can’t forget her -
I miss my pretty Fraulein.

Fraulein, Fraulein
Walk down by the river,
Each night when the stars start to shine.
By the same stars above you,
I swear that I love you ...
You are my pretty Fraulein.

In my moments of glory,
A face comes before me ...
The face of a girl I left behind.
I loved her and left her,
But I can’t forget her ...
I miss my pretty Fraulein.

Fraulein, Fraulein
Walk down by the river,
Each night when the stars start to shine.
By the same stars above you,
I swear that I love you
You are my pretty Fraulein ... *


27 posted on 08/26/2007 3:16:17 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Dysart

“Der Bush is daran schuld.”


28 posted on 08/26/2007 3:18:08 PM PDT by patton (Congress would lose money running a brothel.)
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To: goldstategop

Achtung, the best of the wurst! I had a friend who got a ticket there for WWI. He was “walking while intoxicated” during Wurstfest. True story.

Landa Park is where I was talking the other day in a post about seeing enormous concrete picnic tables up in the tops of trees after a bad flood.


29 posted on 08/26/2007 3:20:49 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66

Where is Wurstfest? (The link doesn’t work)


30 posted on 08/26/2007 3:23:16 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: bereanway
I remember that place! I think Ive eaten there too...it didnt last long though did it?

One German restaurant I love to revisit is The Altdorf in Fredericksburg. I have the recipe for their hot potato salad...DELICIOUS~!!!

31 posted on 08/26/2007 3:25:09 PM PDT by Alkhin (star dust contemplating star dust)
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To: Dysart
A guy I dated in college used to know all the "German" spots...Blanco, Boerne. And the Czechs made quite a few inroads in population too in Texas, but they are further south and east. Pretty much any little hideyhole town in the Hill Country can bring you Germans.

Have you tried Luchenbach too?

32 posted on 08/26/2007 3:28:26 PM PDT by Alkhin (star dust contemplating star dust)
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To: Dysart

I spent a lot of time many years ago all through the little towns from about Bellville, New Ulm, La Grange, Fayetteville, and on west.

They still had (and may still have) turne vereins where people held dances on the weekends - whole families came, babies and great-grandparents - and the only music on the little country radio stations was polka music.

I also spent a lot of time in New Braunfels, Groene, Fredericksburg, Luckenbach, and points west. Stopping to eat the local sausage at every smokehouse we encountered, too. There’s a sausage for every German dialect, and then some!


33 posted on 08/26/2007 3:28:34 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Dysart

“New Brownsville” lol.

Aka “New Braunfels,” named for the Duke of Braunfels who owned all the land between there and Houston (exaggerating a little here) a couple of hundred years ago. He started a lot of the settlements, bringing people over from the Old Country - I think he was Bavarian, but could be wrong about that.


34 posted on 08/26/2007 3:31:45 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Dysart

http://www.oktoberfestinfbg.com/

It’s not long until Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg!
October 5 - 6 - 7


35 posted on 08/26/2007 3:35:37 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: Alkhin

Even though I was born in Houston I’ve only been back in Texas(DFW area) for just over twelve years and I’ve never even visited the Hill Country so, no, I haven’t tried Luchenbach. I have much exploring to do someday when I have the opportunity.


36 posted on 08/26/2007 3:37:01 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Aruchu

I believe Castroville was their destination...


37 posted on 08/26/2007 3:38:46 PM PDT by jdub
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To: Physicist

A German Prince brought his people with him, and founded New Braunfels. Is there a Braunfels region of Germany? On an interesting note, the Prince couldn’t take the weather and went home, and left the people here.


38 posted on 08/26/2007 3:39:57 PM PDT by jdub
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To: Dysart

I’ve read that during WW1 and again in WW2 many Germans named Mueller changed their names to Miller due to harassment of Germans.


39 posted on 08/26/2007 3:40:15 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Dysart

doesn’t anyone know that the only culture worth saving is hispanic. Germans? they’ve got to be kidding. sarc/


40 posted on 08/26/2007 3:41:18 PM PDT by television is just wrong (deport all illegal aliens NOW. Put all AMERICANS TO WORK FIRST. END WELFARE.i)
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To: Dysart

Try this one:

http://www.wurstfest.com/


41 posted on 08/26/2007 3:41:50 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66

This thread is making me seriously homesick. The cultural varieties of the Hill Country is just one of the many things I love about the place. I’m going to have to go drink a Shiner Bock.
{{key the “London Homesick Blues...}}


42 posted on 08/26/2007 3:45:18 PM PDT by jdub
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To: jdub

Prince, that’s right. I was thinking duke. Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels.

And I can’t belive I misspelled Gruene. I was thinking of the Groene family, because I always mispronounced *their* name, calling it “Green” like the town of Gruene. Yikes, outliving my memory cells here.


43 posted on 08/26/2007 3:46:12 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Dysart

How strange, life’s symmetries. I was just talking to a friend last night about his departed brother, a beloved teacher in the town of Munster, TX.


44 posted on 08/26/2007 3:47:10 PM PDT by tanuki (u)
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To: jdub

Kosmo Spoetzl would thank you. So you wanna go home with the armadillo, good country music from Amarillo and Abilene?


45 posted on 08/26/2007 3:49:46 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Physicist
Throughout the entire 1800's for the most part. As best as I can tell most of them were German Catholics and there was heavy advertising in Catholic newsletters in Germany. If I had to guess I suspected it was a real estate thing. Some German had a bunch of land and needed a market. Just a guess.

There's one advertising flyer that's been floating around and it's a hoot. Firstly it said that Texas wasn't as hot in the summer as Minnesota. Uh huh.

Secondly there's this bit that struck me as so funny I had to cut and paste and still have saved:

"Texas is a democratic, free state, and there is no danger at all that fanatic, slippery hypocrites can take power and throw the state into servitude as has unfortunately has happened in many a state of the North. A German can without exception, freely and openly drink his glass of beer. He is welcomed everywhere and his work and services are properly appreciated. As a result of this, Texas can show more immigration, more German communities than most other states; indeed there are entire counties which are almost purely German."

Maybe not then...

For some reason, perhaps simply because of isolation, the German colonies in Texas didn't dilute as fast as they did in other areas of the US.

For whatever reason they held their culture visiting was my first experience of "culture shock" as a Baptist kid coming from a dry county in east Texas.

I think I remember those times with great fondness. Certainly as a bit hungover.

46 posted on 08/26/2007 3:51:13 PM PDT by Proud_texan (Just my opinion, no relationship to reality is expressed or implied.)
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To: Dysart

***Boas explains that because there were no skunks in their native country***

I can think of several but they shot or poisoned themselves in 1945.


47 posted on 08/26/2007 3:51:22 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Ever see WILLIS SHAW backwards in your rear view mirror? I have!)
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To: Rte66

friendliest people and the prettiest women you ever seen.....


48 posted on 08/26/2007 3:52:05 PM PDT by jdub
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To: Dysart

Everyone in the USA needs to speak English. Not Spanish, or Dutch, or German. English. The liberals love this cultural diversity thing, it divides people and makes them dependent upon the state.
Sorry if Texican-German has to die out, but it is for the good of the country. Now we just need to make Spanish die out.


49 posted on 08/26/2007 3:52:33 PM PDT by BuffaloJack (Before the government can give you a dollar it must first take it from another American)
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To: Rte66

Spaetzle? It is a kind of knudeln, made like noodles, but that is not important right now...


50 posted on 08/26/2007 3:54:07 PM PDT by patton (Congress would lose money running a brothel.)
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