Immigration, Language, and Conflicting Ideologies: The Czech in Texas

Reference work entry


The nineteenth-century mass migration to the agricultural regions of the USA created conditions for the formation of cultural enclaves. These enclaves flourished usually for up to three generations before they began to merge with the majority culture. Their speakers exhibited particular attitudes to the home language and nation as well as strategies of maintaining self-identity and defending a parallel sociolinguistic presence. The eventual atrophy of the immigrant language (resulting from cultural marginalization, isolation from the resource culture of the homeland, contact with English or another majority language and the pressures of Americanization) became a signal of assimilation manifested in language variation and change affecting the lexicon, grammar, and stylistic range as well as expansion of one’s social networks. Among the immigrant languages, Czech in Texas represents a particular code of Czech that illustrates these characteristics and outcomes. Tombstone inscriptions in Texas cemeteries map out the layout of the once prosperous enclave and represent an unusual resource to study primary language data. As artifacts of a vernacular culture, they literally stand for a culture and language that no longer exist. They also attest to the practices of ethnic and religious exclusion, social non-integration, and economic noncooperation that is a survival strategy by social autarchy.


Cemetery inscription Identity Ideology Immigration Language contact 


  1. 10th Census. (1880). Population, Florida [microform], United States. Bureau of the Census; National Archives and Records Service, v. 1: 847. Available at
  2. 15th U.S. Census. (1930). v. 2, Federal Population Census. Florida [microform]., and National Archives.
  3. Anderson, T. G. (1993). Czech-Catholic cemeteries in east-central Texas: Material culture and ethnicity in seven rural communities. Material Culture, 25(3), 1–18.Google Scholar
  4. Baird, S. J. (1996). The Taylor, Texas, city cemetery: A language community. Markers, 13, 113–141.Google Scholar
  5. Carpenter, N. (1927). Immigrants and their children, 1920. A study based on census statistics relative to the foreign born as the native white of foreign and mixed parentage (Census monographs VII). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  6. Cox, G., Giordano, A., & Juge, M. (2010). The geography of language shift: A quantitative cemetery study in the Texas Czech community. Southwestern Geographer, 14, 3–22.Google Scholar
  7. Daniels, R. (1997). Not like us: Immigrants and minorities in America, 1890–1924. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.Google Scholar
  8. Eckert, E. (2003). Life of a language in emigration: Taking the national revival a step further. American Contributions to the 13th International Congress of Slavists in Ljubljana, 1. Linguistics (pp. 37–50). Blooming, Indiana: Slavica Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Eckert, E., & Hannan, K. (2009). Vernacular writing and a sociolinguistic change in the Texas Czech community. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, 17, 87–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Egger, P., & Lassmann, A. (2012). The language effect in international trade: A meta-analysis. Economics Letters, 116, 221–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fayette County, Texas Heritage. (1996). 1–2. Dallas: Fayette County History Book Committee.Google Scholar
  12. Fehrenbach, T. R. (1968). Lone star: A history of Texas and the Texans. New York: American Legacy Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fidrmuc, J., & Fidrmuc, J. (2014). Foreign languages and trade. CESifo Working Paper Series 4670. Accessed 6 Jan 2016.
  14. Gilbert, G. G. (1972). Linguistic atlas of Texas German. Austin/London: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hannan, K. (1993). The language question in nineteenth century Moravia. Czechoslovak and Central European Journal, 11, 116–120.Google Scholar
  16. Janak, R. (1991). Czech Texas and Texas Czechs. Stirpes, 31, 106–119.Google Scholar
  17. Janak, R. (1997). Czech inscriptions on Texas tombstones. Beaumont.Google Scholar
  18. Jeleček, L. (2002). Trocha faktografie nikoho nezabije – Češi a čeští Němci do roku 1918 [A few facts won’t hurt anyone – Czechs and Czech Germans until 1918]. Accessed 12 Jan 2016.
  19. Jordan, T. G. (1966). German seed in Texas soil: Immigrant farmers in 19th century Texas. Austin/London: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  20. Konecny, L. H., & Machann, C. (1993). German and Czech immigration to Texas: The Bremen to Galveston route, 1880–1886. Nebraska History, 74(3–4), 136–141.Google Scholar
  21. Kulhavy, A. (2000). Czech settlements and cemeteries in Texas related to soils. SVU Congress, Tabor. Accessed 9 Jan 2016.
  22. Leibowitz, A. H. (1974). Language as a means of social control: The United States experience. Washington, DC: Clearinghouse ERIC Document ED 093 168.Google Scholar
  23. Lotto, F. (1902). Fayette county. Her history and her people. Schulenburg: Sticker Stem Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mertz, E. (1982). Whorfian folk theory in US language law. Accessed 8 Jan 2016.
  25. Milroy, L. (1987). Language and social networks (2nd ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Milroy, L., & Gordon, M. (2008). The concept of social network. Sociolinguistics: Method and interpretation (pp. 116–133). Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Myers-Scotton, C. (1997). Code-switching. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), Handbook of sociolinguistics (pp. 217–237). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Naše dějiny [Our History]. (1939). Národní svaz Českých katolíků v Texas [National Union of Czech Catholics in Texas]. Granger: Našinec.Google Scholar
  29. Praszałowicz, D. (2005). Old neighbors in the new world. Germans, Jews, Poles and Ruthenians on Manhattan Lower East Side. Przegląd Polonijny, 31(4), 77–92.Google Scholar
  30. Řepa, M. (2003). Hory, věrozvěstové a bodří Moraváci [Hills, prophets and sturdy Moravians]. Dějiny a současnost, 3, 23–26.Google Scholar
  31. Rippley, L. V. J. (1994). The ethnic frontier: Rural Germans and the settlement of America. In T. Walch (Ed.), Immigrant America: European ethnicity in the United States (pp. 197–214). New York/London: Garland Publishing.Google Scholar
  32. Šimíček, J. (1996). The pilgrims for hope. The emigration to America during 1855–1914 from villages Mniší, Tichá and Vlčovice, Sitex, Veřovice.Google Scholar
  33. Šimíček, J. (1999). Vystěhovalectví z Místeckého hejtmanství v letech 1850 až 1914 v číslech a grafech [emigration from the Mistek region from 1850 to 1914 in numbers and graphs], Sitex Veřovice, Lichnov.Google Scholar
  34. Wright, S. (2014). The map, the group and language ideology. Journal of World Languages, 1(2), 81–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and LanguagesAnglo-American UniversityPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations