Ph.D. candidate in German Linguistics
Treasurer, German Graduate Student Association
Rose Fisher holds a BA in Psychology and German from Millersville University. Currently, she is a dual-title Ph.D. candidate in German Linguistics and Language Science. As a former member of the Amish community in Lancaster County, PA she is a native speaker of both Pennsylvania Dutch and English. She also dabbles in Spanish, French, and Norwegian.
With a declared major in Psychology, Rose decided on a whim during the second year of her undergraduate studies to take a beginner class in German. She was curious about the relationship between Pennsylvania Dutch and European German. Learning German came easily at first and became more difficult as she advanced into the intermediate level and more differences between German and Pennsylvania Dutch emerged. Throughout this time and during a semester abroad in Würzburg, her interest in German (and languages more broadly) blossomed and grew resulting in an undergraduate degree in German.
Rose is an enthusiast of all things German (history, culture, food, etc.) and loves to teach and speak the language. Nonetheless, her research interests focus squarely on Pennsylvania Dutch, the language of her childhood and heritage. In the face of immense pressure to shift to English, Pennsylvania Dutch is an immigrant language that has been extraordinarily resilient. It has been in use for nearly 300 years and continues to thrive in the US to this day. The largest groups of modern-day speakers are separatist Amish and Mennonites whose unique cultural values pervade and shape the language along with outside forces such as contact with English. In her research, Rose’s aim is to investigate not only the structural aspects of this living, evolving language, but also to shed light on how culture, religious beliefs, and language contact drive language evolution. She strives always to keep the speakers (in her case, usually the Amish) and their cultural values at the heart of her investigations. This community and its language are not only fascinating objects of study but are also inescapable components of her identity.