Dialect Archive

What is Texas Czech?

Texas Czech, an immigrant variety of European Czech, is a product of over a century and a half of contact between Moravian Czech and English in Texas. Texas Czech blends the archaic features of Northeastern Moravian dialects – the Lachian (Lašsko) and Valachian (Valašsko) regions of the present-day Czech Republic, aspects of Standard (Written) Czech, and features of English spoken in Texas.

czech Image courtesy of The Czech Language Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

While Texans of this descent have largely maintained a sense of distinctive ethnic identity and while they have creatively re-authenticated their ancestors’ traditions into a unique Texas Czech culture, their language is now on the verge of disappearing. Having a healthy counterpart in Europe, Texas Czech may not appear to face as dire a fate as endangered Indigenous languages do. However, when this variety dies, so will a distinct blend of archaic Moravian dialects, spoken and written Czech, and English spoken in Texas, which bears little resemblance to contemporary European Czech.

What do we offer?

The TCDA will offer segmented interviews with ethnic Czech Moravians in Texas, in combination with their transcriptions and translations. Recordings of elicited language tasks and grammatical judgments will be made available as well.  The Archive will grow as more and more interviews are thematically pieced out, edited, transcribed, and translated. Currently, we are working to make accessible the recordings and transcripts/ translations from the database of Lida Cope. A native of the Czech Republic, Cope began to develop her life-long interest in the language and culture of ethnic Czech Moravians in Texas as a graduate student at the University of Arizona in Tucson in the mid-1990s. In 1997, she spent six rewarding months in the midst of the hospitable and generous community of Texas Czechs, dividing her time between two longer stays in Granger and West, and traveling the communities in between.  She spoke with many Texas Czechs, old and young, became fascinated with their unique Texas Czech dialect, and developed a deep admiration for their ethnocultural traditions and traits that had co-shaped the diverse historical and cultural landscape of Texas. It has been quite a few years since her dissertation Texas Czech: an ethnolinguistic study (1998) was published. Still, the work included only a sliver of the many fascinating interviews and chats from church picnics, weddings, festivals and other events in which she participated on a daily basis. Some fifteen years and various publications on the Czech Texas later, the Texas Czech Legacy Project affords the opportunity to make publicly accessible all of her digitized recordings from that time, those from the Svatava Pirková Jakobson archive (at least 97 hours collected in the 1970s-80s), as well as the interviews (cc. 150 hours/50 speakers) from the early 2000s conducted by John Tomecek.

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