About the project – University of Copenhagen

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About the project

The research project ’Danish Voices in the Americas' (University of Copenhagen, 2014–2018) is facilitated through grants by the A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal, by the Carlsberg Foundation as a Semper Ardens-project and by Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics as well as the Department of Nordic Research at the University of Copenhagen. We are grateful for the generous financial support.

The project seeks to map heritage Danish in North America and in Argentina. We focus on the speech of the emigrants of the European transatlantic mass emigration from the late 19th and early 20th century, and their descendants.

Since summer 2014, ‘Danish Voices’ has assembled a large database of heritage Danish speech with recordings from Argentina, Canada and the US made in between 1963 and 2015. The database contains recordings of ca. 300 speakers born between 1870 and 1971 (read about the Corpus of American Danish). Based on these data, we want to describe how Danish has changed since it left home: What kind(s) of Danish is spoken in North and South America and what are the differences to spoken Mainland Danish?

Before World War I, the US and Argentina were the main destinations for emigration from Denmark; after World War II, Canada became popular. The countries offered the migrants quite different living conditions, and the migrants had different expectations: Factors such as settlement patterns, endogamy, gathering around Danish churches and Danish associations have had huge influence on the maintenance of Danish language. Read more about the emigrants and their language in North America and in Argentina. Danish in the Americas has certainly changed due to the influence of English and Spanish, the societally dominant languages. One of the focus points of the project is to compare the linguistic outcome of contact between Danish and a genetically and typologically related language, English, and a non-related Romance language, Spanish.

Theoretically, ‘Danish Voices in the Americas’ sets out from sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, language sociology and migration research.