Language shift revisited: linguistic repertoires of Jews in Low German-speaking Germany in the Early Twentieth Century. Insights from the LCAAJ Archive

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This paper analyzes the linguistic repertoires of Jews in the Low German-speaking areas in the first decades of the twentieth century, as a contribution to historical sociolinguistics. Based on fieldwork questionnaires held in the archives of the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ), it addresses the question of whether the Jewish minorities spoke a supralectal form of standard German or Koiné forms of dialects, relating this to issues of language shift from Western Yiddish. The study shows that many Jews living in northern Germany during the 1920s and 1930s still had access to a multilingual repertoire containing remnants of Western Yiddish; that a majority of the LCAAJ interviewees from this area emphasized their excellent command of standard German; and that their competence in Low German varied widely, from first language to no competence at all, depending on the region where they lived.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-166
JournalJournal of Germanic Linguistics
Issue number2
Early online date18 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


Bibliographical note

The final publication is available via Cambridge Journals Online at


  • Western Yiddish
  • Low German
  • linguistic repertoires
  • language shift
  • successor lects

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