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The speaker is a 63-year-old White woman with a high school education from Sainte Genevieve, Missouri; she was recorded in 1968.


County: Sainte Genevieve
State: MO

Located on the Mississippi River along the Illinois border, Sainte Genevieve was established in 1740, making it the oldest permanent settlement in Missouri. Originally a trading post, its later settlers included fur traders, lead miners, and farmers. Its oldest buildings were constructed by French and Creole settlers during Spanish rule and serve as examples of French colonial architecture, particularly evident in vertical wooden post construction. In addition to heavy French and Creole influences, there was also a significant German population. In this segment the speaker remembers her father, who utilized the Badisch dialect of German for livestock business negotiations.
Inf: My father was a German. Um, his father and mother were German, but they never taught their children to speak German [FW: Mm]. His father was a county collector in the courthouse for many, many years. My Grandpa _____. And um, they never taught their children to speak German. But when my father uh, uh, got old enough to go out and buy cattle and hogs, in those days uh, that's what they had to do, go out on [FW: Mm] horseback and, and buy their cattle and hogs and butcher 'em all theirself for the butcher shops. He ran into lot of hardship because lots of these back-wooders, as we call them, uh, could speak no English [FW: Mm-hmm]. All they could speak was German [FW: Mm-hmm].

So my father had to get with it. He, he either had to speak it or else [FW: Mm-hmm]. So he's, uh, learned how to speak Badisch. And that is uh, an expression, eh, that they use around here for the, the low [FW: Mm] class of German. And not the low class, but the, the uh???

FW: Uh, not the standard German.

Inf: Yes [FW: Yeah (xx)]. It's like the common [FW: Yeah], the common s-, uh, speech [FW: Ah], would you say. And uh, he, uh, he could get by with that. But as, when I grew up, they taught German in the schools here. And uh, my father wanted me to take German. And I wasn't any too hep about taking it [FW: Mm-hmm]. But to please my father, I did. And um, I took two years of it. And in the two years I accomplished quite a bit. I got to a fourth, fourth reader [FW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm] as they called it, those days.

But in that time, the World War was raging, World War One, and they stopped [FW: Yeah] teaching it. They had to. But uh, my father was lost. Uh, we, we would have to write a Christmas letter, or uh, a birthday or anything like that, we'd have to write it in German. And uh, send it to, to him, you know. But when my father would get it, he couldn't read a word [FW: Mm-hmm]. He, he couldn't hardly, well he could speak, as I said, Badisch, but he could speak no high German [FW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm].

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