How come German is not the Official language of the USA?

Guest   Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:32 pm GMT
<<<US is one of the most ancient democracies thanks to the inherited British tradition.<<<

There is nothing ancient about US.
Travis   Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:12 pm GMT
At least here in Wisconsin, I really do not see things as simply being British (i.e. English, Scottish, Welsh, and Scots-Irish) culture transplanted at all, but rather a hybrid European diaspora culture which happens to have developed within a state which was originally a British colony (but which itself should be recognized as also having Dutch, German, Irish, and Huguenot settlement as well). On a local level, there was little to no direct British settlement; the closest thing to any British settlement at all here is settlement by New Englanders early on before the larger scale German settlement here. From the present point of view, the role that British settlement had in some other parts of the US is instead effectively taken by German settlement except that the language spoken here today is English, not German.

Due to said state's having been an English colony, it inherited English as a common language and many aspects of British political traditions, and with English acquired a common set of literature and a common media with the rest of the English-speaking world. (Even then, the whole thing about political traditions is very highly overstated, as American political traditions actually differ greatlyfrom British ones despite both using common law as the basis of their legal systems.) However, these in no way make a greater cultural connection between here and the UK outside of some ties in popular culture today due to having a shared language and media.

As for the whole "melting pot" business, here such *only* applies to the descendents of European immigrants, middle and upper class East Asian and Southeast Asian immigrants, and Native Americans who live away from the reservations. (Even then, the descendents of European immigrants are very self-consciously European in identification here, and do not think of themselves as being "American", unlike European immigrants in some other parts of the US.) All other groups remain very markedly distinct from the European diaspora majority, with de facto segregation being the rule rather than the exception. The descendents of European immigrants think of the land here as being their land, its history as being their history and those of the Native Americans before them, and view other groups outside of Native Americans as essentially being outsiders and as not being part of the majority culture here.
die Wahrheit   Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:57 pm GMT
Skippy...that's kind of the problem.

Which cultural connection are you making? When it comes to the United States there are sadly two stereotypes and a new up-and-comer for Germany, German culture, and Germans.

Germany is seen in terms of war and death. The majority of the media representing Germany right now are war or Holocaust related. While the both World Wars and the Holocaust are extremely important and cannot be forgotten...we are casting a negative shadow on an innocent Germany. I think most people will agree that the Germany of today is not the Germany of yesterday...

If you want to stump the average American, ask them to give you ten words that describe the German culture without using the following words: beer, pretzels, sour kraut, sausages, Lederhosen, Dirndls, or brass poka bands. All of these things which are associated the Oktoberfest have become staples in the average stereotyping of German culture.

And recently, thanks to a growing number of German themed American comedies, as well as, a rather increasing adult entertainment industry in Germany and the United States...German individuals are being viewed as wild, funny, and sexual. If you ever want an interesting read, there is a book out there called "Sensual France And Sexual Germany."

Anyway back to cultural has to be careful because just because one wears Lederhosen or Dirndls, doesn't mean you are celebrating a German tradition. This style of dressing was not worn everyday...for the most part it was a traveler's dressing who centered in Austria and the southern parts of Bavaria. Well Dirndls were common dress worn by ladies, but Lederhosen wasn't.

However, in our ever commercialized world...the two have become standards associated with German culture. I am not saying they are not, please do not get me wrong...I am saying that the majority of Germany does not consider this part of their culture. Just as a good majority of Germany does not celebrate Oktoberfest. Like I said, it is really a Bavarian thing.

Now I know there is going to be someone here who is going to say..."But I have been there and I saw many people wearing them." My question, were you in a touristy area? Because the only people still wearing Lederhosen, not for show, are in small isolated areas in the Alps.

I hate to make this comparison but does putting on a bowl hat on St. Patrick's Day really celebrate the Irish tradition? Not really. What good is putting on Lederhosen if the person doesn't know its history? Are they only putting it on during a German festival because they think that's what a German wears? That's not celebrating a culture, that's stereotyping....
Earle   Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:47 pm GMT
I'm tempted to adopt "die Lüge" for a username. :) I come from a town, Huntsville, AL, which is heavily German-influenced. Not only is it the home of Marshall Space Flight Center and the eventual home of the von Braun rocket team, the German community heavily influenced local culture, the symphony orchestra, community chorus, etc. Before that, there was heavy German influence in the area. Cullman, AL, south of Huntsville was founded by Germans and they form part of my family. More recently, Germans here have been regarded as the "bosses." As in Mercedes, Thyssen-Krupp, etc. In Huntsville, proper, there are probably far more Asians than Germans at this point in time, but the fact remains that people here don't think of lederhosen (uncomfortable SOBs) or Dirndls (really "hübsch") when they think of Germany. I've been traveling to the southern German/Austrian/Switzerland area since the late 60's, and, back then, it was really possible to see housewives wearing Tracht. But no longer. In the early 90s, my wife and I managed to be in Unspunnen, outside Interlaken, Schweiz, for a festival held every 11 years. There were groups from all over the country in their local Tracht, with folk singing, dancing, traditional wrestling, etc. It was neat to look at, but a lot of it certainly looked uncomfortable...
die Wahrheit   Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:50 pm GMT
Earle (a.k.a) die Lüge ;-)

I have been to Huntsville. I sort of remember the space center...I was more impressed with Twickenham, but then you have to understand that I am more of a history person.

It is funny you mention the dancing. That is one thing that I don't think most people understand and is very important to know about Germanic tribal societies. Especially in modern culture where the young will fake a seizure and call it dancing...LOL.

Germanic tribes believed in group conformity. Maybe not as strong as in Asian cultures, but it was pretty strong. This is not something we think of in Western cultures, but it was very apparent in older Germanic society. And it was pretty strong up into the mid 1900's. Now I think it is fair to say that modern Germany is an individualistic society...but it wasn't always.

When you watch most German folk dancing, one of the things that stands out is that the individual doesn't dance. Instead, the group takes part in a choreographed dance that incorporates everyone in it. Men and women, men and men, women and women all moving in a uniform motion. These dances were very important in old days because tribes would use these dances as a way of connecting with other tribes. It didn't matter who you were, where you came from...everyone knew these dances and could take part as one of the group.

These dances conformed and unified the people.

Why is this important? Because this is one very overt example of how Germanic cultures tend to conform to fit in. This is also why Germanic cultures tend to learn the language of their host nations. They were conforming as they tended to do.

As I said earlier, Germany has really only recently starting showing overt individuality in their society. And what is starting to happen, a resurgence of pride in their language. I think there is not a single person here that will say that the language you choose to speak is not a symbol of your individualistic identity. It is a way of saying "I am...and not..." And you are not going to do anything about it...

I think this has always been the strength of languages like Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese....ect. That the people who speak these languages have a serious individualistic, as well as, group pride in their languages that cannot be changed.
Earle   Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:47 am GMT
Of course, one could say, that when the Germans start rediscovering their national identity, their neighbors give a little shiver. :) For myself, I'm proud of all my ethnicities...