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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the politics of language use in collective singing among conserving Mennonites in northern Mexico. The group migrated to Mexico from Canada to distance itself from the worldly influences of modern technologies and secular society in general. In the new environment the German language stands as a symbolic marker, distinguishing Mennonites from the wider society. The chapter shows how further in-group linguistic distinctions are marked through uses of High and Low German (drawing on the wider class associations of the two languages), in which a distinct “a” (pronounced “au”) from Low German is often employed in contexts of High German use. The chapter explores what happens when this distinctive pronunciation is used politically in collective song as an expression of defiance by individual singers and the tensions that result when collective song becomes a space for “phonological expressions of difference.”

Keywords: Christianity, music, Mexico, Canada, Mennonite, High German, Low German, lange Wies, collectivity, individuality

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