Ethnolinguistic vitality in Ţthe danish capital of americaŢ

Tore Kristiansen, James T Harwood, Howard Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


This paper analyses objective/subjective and qualitative/quantitative aspects of vitality in Solvang, a Danish-American community. The setting is interesting for its radical transformation from being all about leading a fulfilling (Grundtvigian) community life to being instrumentally all about attracting tourists with an external Danish facade. By ethnographic-like means, we analyse the historical vitality of Solvang to the present leading us to formulate hypotheses for testing in three investigations using the Subjective Vitality Questionnaire (SVQ) with adolescent and adult Danish- and Anglo-Americans. Informants were realistic in their evaluations associating Danish strengths with the past, judging Anglos and Danes as currently equal economically and culturally, and ranking Danes lower than both Anglos and Hispanics as to language use and demographics. Younger Anglos viewed Hispanic vitality more positively than their elders. A so-called ‘perceptual distortions in favour of the outgroup’ profile emerged, such that Anglos perceived Danish vitality higher than the latter themselves, whereas Danes construed Anglo vitality higher than did Anglos. Finally, whether Hispanics were included in the judgemental frame or not had significant effects on the ratings of Anglo and Danish vitalities, findings having telling implications for future research. The value of adopting truly ethnographic and quantitative analyses of vitality in tandem is underscored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-448
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

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