Sociolinguistic research on language and culture of the Mennonite community of ejido Salamanca, Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

1 January 2018 until 31 December 2023
Project member(s)
E.L.F.M. Hoebens (Emmie) , , Prof. F. Hinskens (VU/Meertens Institute) , Dr E. Hekking (UAQ/ Mexico)
Project type

In 1535 the priest Menno Simons became a leading figure for the Anabaptists. His followers in the Northern Netherlands later were called Mennonites. Most of them were from Frisian and Flemish backgrounds. At first because of persecutions, and thereafter in order to protect their principled, religion-related community conditions, these Mennonites have roamed via Germany to Russia, Canada, Mexico, Belize and other countries in Latin America.

The most orthodox members of this Mennonite group (Old Colony Mennonites) have increasingly kept aloof from worldly existence, especially since the end of the eighteenth century, and have also repeatedly sought seclusion in small communities in various countries, where their basic conditions (Privilegia) were met. They use Plautdietsch as their everyday colloquial and home language, which is a Low Prussian dialect of East Low German with Dutch (and other) influence, developed during the Mennonites’ stay in the 16th - 17th centuries in the Vistula delta area of Royal Prussia; High German is used in church and education.

This PhD research examines the language and culture in a community of Old Colony Mennonites newly formed in 2004 (largely from Belize, but now also including some residents from Canada and other parts of Mexico) in southern Mexico, state of Quintana Roo, municipality of Bacalar. The name of the settlement of approx. 1800 inhabitants is Salamanca.

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