“The English Effect” on Amish Language and Literacy Practices

Tabetha Adkins


Using Jack Goody and Ian Watt’s theory of literacy as a normalizing agent, I show how the presence of the English language and “English Only” values and policies have affected the Amish and their home language, Pennsylvania Dutch, and their religious language, “High” German. These changes are seen as detrimental to the Amish who, like linguistic scholars William Labov, John E. Joseph, and Joshua A. Fishman, equate language with identity.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.