Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland!
Peoples have always migrated and taken their languages and stories with them. Moreover, languages and cultures are almost never confined to one geographical area or one nation. This year, the Oxford German Olympiad explores German peoples, language and culture beyond the borders of Germany. Here are some questions you might want to think about:
Historically, Germany didn’t even come into existence until 1871. Does that mean travelling back in time opens up a world in which all of ‘German’ existed only ‘beyond Germany’?
Like English, German is the official language in more than one country. Do people in Austria speak ‘German’ or ‘Austrian’? And what about Switzerland? Officially divided into German, French and Italian speaking areas – the German you’ll encounter here is again very different and even varies with each Kanton!
Like Britain, France, Spain or Portugal, Germany became a colonial power, but only in the late nineteenth century under Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was a latecomer seeking a “place in the sun” – “einen Platz an der Sonne”. There are still traces of that heritage, e.g. in Africa.
Can you think of any famous German migrants in the UK? You could start with looking into the ancestors of the Royal Family... A wave of migration to other parts of the world was caused by National Socialism in the 1930s and early 1940s, but Germans also moved across Europe and across oceans for religious and economic reasons from the sixteenth century onwards.
People migrate for many reasons: they may follow a friend or partner, work for an international company, seek an education abroad or just want to try living somewhere else. How many people in the UK do you know who originate from a German-speaking country?
Texts migrate – above all through translation. Pick a piece of German you find interesting and try translating it. It’s fun! You’ll find words that are almost the same, and words that are challenging. Are any untranslatable?