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Old 07-23-2013, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
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Although Lawrence Welk was born and raised in North Dakota, he spoke with a distinct accent (some say it was German, but it didn't quite sound like it to me). Do you remember other North Dakotans of his generation who spoke with "foreign" accents?
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:26 PM
 
Location: E ND & NW MN
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That area where he was from has a lot of Germans from Russia immigrants new the country at that time. My inlaws mother was a German form Russia immigrant and they settled southeast of Minot and from what I understand spoke mostly German but learned English along the way. So I am sure being at the time when he was younger you still had some folks with heavy German accents when speaking in English.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:57 PM
 
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I have heard that Lawrence Welk spoke only German until he was in his teens, thus explaining his heavy accent and perhaps some of his malapropisms. He was born in this country, but was first-generation and his parents were from Germany. I have never heard of any Russian connection.

The musical numbers on "The Lawrence Welk Show" were pre-recorded (at least the vocal performances were - not absolutely sure about the instrumentals) but the commentary and spoken introductions were live, I believe.

The Lennon Sisters' collective autobiography, "Same Song, Separate Voices", includes many interesting and amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes about performing on the show.
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:21 PM
 
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Welk was definitely of Russian-German heritage, as were most people in south central North Dakota. Their ancestors, having been invited to the Russian steppes region from Germany by Catherine the Great in the early 1800's, were already acclimated to the severe hot / cold continental weather mix on the Russian steppes, so their adjustment to the northern plains was not as dramatic as other ethnic immigrants. If they hadn't emigrated to the US prior to WWI, ethnic Germans were harshly treated by the new communistic government, especially prior to and during WWII (when most of them were sent to Siberian prison camps).

Quote:
Welk was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg, North Dakota. He was sixth of the eight children of Ludwig and Christiana (Schwahn) Welk, ethnic Germans who emigrated to America in 1892 from Selz, Kutschurgan District, in the German-speaking area north of Odessa (now Odessa, Ukraine, but then in southwestern Russia).



Germans from Russia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Germans from Russia had an incredible work ethic and did not value education nearly as much as their German cousins. Germans from Russia also are known for living very long lives with a lot a heavy work. The former Northern Pacific RR line advertised "new land" to settlers extensively in European German language papers, so for that reason southern ND has a much higher German immigration level. (In contrast, the Great Northern advertised extensively in Scandinavia for settlers.)

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection

Last edited by fourwinds; 07-23-2013 at 11:30 PM..
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
Although Lawrence Welk was born and raised in North Dakota, he spoke with a distinct accent (some say it was German, but it didn't quite sound like it to me). Do you remember other North Dakotans of his generation who spoke with "foreign" accents?
Well the majority of them were "foreign" to some extent. I only remember one of my great-grandparents but she had a distinctive Irish accent and she was born here. I'm told that another great-grandma refused to learn to speak English even though she raised her children here. She was Polish. One of my grandpas taught me how to swear in Norwegian The other had a Scottish accent and they were both born here. Short answer - ya sure you betcha.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
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This is from Wikipedia:

"A common misconception is that Welk did not learn English until he was 21. In fact, he began learning English as soon as he started school. The part of North Dakota where he lived had been settled largely by Germans from Russia; even his teachers spoke English as a second language. Welk thus acquired his trademark accent, typical of these Plattdeutsch or Low German-speaking immigrants who usually spoke the language at home long after they began to learn English at school. He took elocution lessons in the 1950s and could speak almost accent-free, but he realized his public expected to hear him say: "A-one, an-a-two" and "Wunnerful, Wunnerful!" When he was asked about his ancestry, he would always reply "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany," from where his forebears had emigrated to Russia (and which, at the time of Welk's birth in 1903, had become part of the German Empire)."
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