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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 26, 2011

New UI Press book is a portrait of Pella's Dutch community

An expanded paperback edition of Pella Dutch: Portrait of a Language in an Iowa Community by Philip Webber will become available Nov. 1, from the Bur Oak Books series from the University of Iowa Press. Webber is professor emeritus of German and linguistics at Central College in Pella.

The book may be obtained at bookstores or directly from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at

Founded in 1847 by religious separatists, the town of Pella in central Iowa is the state's oldest Dutch-American colony, and its crafts, architecture, and celebrations reflect and perpetuate the Dutch heritage of its earlier residents. Through sociolinguistic research, regional history, and interviews with current speakers of Pella Dutch, Webber examines the town's rich cultural and linguistic traditions.

Drawing upon formal and informal interviews and conversations with more than 150 speakers of Pella Dutch, he uses the methods of language research to trace the vestiges of Dutch heritage left on the English spoken by local residents, to explain attitudes toward language and ethnicity that emerged in the 20th century, and to document the vocabulary, linguistic forms, humor, and conversational patterns that characterize contemporary Pella Dutch. He includes the jokes, proverbial observations, folk wisdom, children's rhymes, riddles, and puzzles influenced by Pella Dutch.

Webber's introduction to this expanded paperback edition provides new photographs, updated information about recent research and publications, examples of how Dutch continues to be spoken, and descriptions of the ways in which Pella continues to commemorate its linguistic and cultural heritage.

Nancy C. Dorian of Bryn Mawr College called the original edition "an authoritative work… enormously enriched by the insights derived from personal involvement with the community… a work of meticulous, informed scholarship…"

Books in the Bur Oak series represent the UI Press's dedication to celebrating the literature, history, geography, and culture of the Great Plains, with an intense focus on natural history and environmental issues.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press, Winston Barclay, University News Services,