2004
Volume 71 Number 2
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214

Abstract

Abstract

Not only can monolingual histories mask multilingual practices, but writing languages out of history happens very differently even in the same time and place. We examine two cases in one historical setting, an Indigenous language and an immigrant language in Wisconsin (U.S.), Menominee and German. The widespread view of the United States today as an English monolingual state reflects an ongoing process of writing other languages out of history, or invisibilization. Menominee and German present sharply contrasting cases of this process and reactions to it from the late 19th century to the present. German, once widely taught, written and read in a standard variety, has lost that status as one piece of a broader political struggle and exists today basically as a ‘post-vernacular’ language. In contrast, Menominee faced ongoing, violent efforts to extirpate it, but is being revitalized by a new generation of speakers today.

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