First Advisor

Joan H. Strouse

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Policy




Mennonites -- Manitoba -- Language, Language policy -- Manitoba, Language policy -- Canada



Physical Description

3, xiv, 182 leaves (10 folded): ill., maps 28 cm.


Histories give little attention to language dominance in school and community -- to the fact that the past one-hundred years of "One People, One Language, One School" attitudes, policies, and goals in Anglo-American schools and communities have brought with them the demise of Native-American languages, the disappearance of linguistic differences due to immigrant origin, the disvalue or stereotype of linguistic patterns derived from regional and ethnic variation, and the insistence on English as a mark of linguistic and intellectual virtue. Telling Stories (0ut of School) of Mother Tongue, God's Tongue, and the Queen's Tongue: An Ethnography in Canada gives attention to one such history. Told in Mennonite perspective and framed in Manitoba schools between 1890 and 1990, Telling Stories (Out of School) begins with tales of English-speaking Canadian insistence on and German-speaking Mennonite resistance to English-only language education policies in public and private schools serving a Mennonite speech community in southern Manitoba. The research problem links itself historically to a series of language education acts passed by the Manitoba Legislature, adjudicated by the Manitoba Attorney General, the Canadian Supreme Court, and the British Privy Council, and enforced by the Manitoba Department of Education -- all between 1890 and 1920. These English-only policies, deemed an expedient response to the question of how to unify English Canadians, French-Canadians, Aboriginals, and immigrants, abrogated the language education rights of all linguistic minorities. English prevailed in Manitoba schools until the 1960s. After the mid-1960s, though, the Canadian Parliament in concert with the Manitoba Legislature, the Manitoba Department of Education, and local public school districts re-affirmed Canada's English-French legacy as well as its multilingual, multicultural heritage with yet another series of language and language education acts -- the Canadian Official Languages Act of 1969, the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, and the Canadian Multicultural Act of 1988. Today, the Canadian "Cultural Mosaic," or "Multiculturalism within a Bilingual Framework," dispels the "Melting Pot" myth borrowed from the United States at the turn of the century. And, the 1990 right to "language education choice" in Manitoba's system of public schools denies the 1890 rule of "One People, One Language, One School." To trace historical and recent developments in a Mennonite speech community associated with these policies, and subsequently with the contact of English, High German, and Low German” outside the classroom," the ethnographer -- an insider-outsider -- synthesizes the Hymes-type work in ethnographies of speaking and the Milroy-type work in language and social networks to examine the Ferguson-coined phenomenon of diglossia and the Fishman-extended relationship between societal diglossia and individual Bilingualism. Interviews with fifty-seven speakers, treated as a sequence of ethno-acts and ethno-events, are guided by the general question of sociolinguistic research -- who uses what language with whom, when, where, and why? Using Hymes mnemonic code of SPEAKING leads to the description of a shared history and a shared way of speaking as well as to insights into linguistic continuity, change, and compartmentalization. Telling Stories (Out of School) ends; with tales of an ethnic revival in Mennonite schools and community today -- with new voices speaking Low German High German, and English. While the present ethnography of a Mennonite speech community in Canada, framed in Manitoba schools between 1890 and 1990, should be regarded as impressionistic and preliminary, the fact remains -- language dominance does do something to the life of language in a community as does language education policy that attempts to "start where the child is ... linguisticallly."


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