German-American and American English Dialects

Prof. Seifert with WI German consultantThe Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies is home to the North American German Dialect Archive (NAGDA), a digital repository of recordings made with US- and Canadian-born speakers of German-related varieties. Most of the original recordings were made by faculty and students affiliated with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, including Prof. Lester W. J. “Smoky” Seifert (1915–1996) and Prof. Jürgen Eichhoff (b. 1937), both of whom worked mainly with heritage German speakers in Wisconsin. Included in the NAGDA holdings is a large collection of recordings of Pennsylvania Dutch speakers from multiple US states and Ontario that were made by and under the supervision of Prof. Wolfgang W. Moelleken (b. 1934), a professor of German at the State University of New York at Albany. Plattdeutscher Hall

Most of the NAGDA recordings were digitized between 2003 and 2007 as part of the American Languages: Our Nation’s Many Voices Online project, which was funded by a National Leadership Grant awarded to MKI by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Our campus partners included the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the University of Wisconsin Libraries, and the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). During the grant period we were able to digitize over 700 hours of NAGDA recordings and 1,375 hours of interviews made with speakers of regional American English dialects for DARE. The complete DARE field recordings may be accessed here.

This website contains clips from a representative sample of NAGDA recordings accompanied by transcriptions and English translations, as well as a number of brief essays on topics related to German-American linguistics. This site also features audio samples of American English dialects from interviews made for DARE. Visitors to this site are welcome to access these clips and other materials for research or other non-commercial purposes as long as they are properly cited. Any questions on the use of NAGDA materials, including how they should be cited, may be sent to mki@library.wisc.edu or mllouden@wisc.edu.