LINGUIST List 6.621

Fri 28 Apr 1995

Disc: Official Language of the USA

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  1. A. Stenzel, Official language/US
  2. Hala'sz Sa'ndor, Re: 6.609 FYI: German as official language of the US

Message 1: Official language/US

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 09:08:32 Official language/US
From: A. Stenzel <fs3a505rrz.uni-hamburg.de>
Subject: Official language/US

Dear LINGUIST readers,

a while ago, I posted a query about the legend that German lost out to
English as the USA's official language by just one vote. Today there
are three reply postings in the list. I would like to add that quite
a few people have replied to me directly, and I have planned to post
a summary. Sadly enough, I didn't get around to do this, but I will
write up what I received over the weekend, so that the summary will
be sent to LINGUIST on the first days of May.

As it happens, there is a kernel of truth to that legend, as is the
case with most legends.

Thanks for your patience.

Achim Stenzel
Universitaet Hamburg
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Message 2: Re: 6.609 FYI: German as official language of the US

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 95 17:17:40 CSRe: 6.609 FYI: German as official language of the US
From: Hala'sz Sa'ndor <halaszkewszeg.norden1.com>
Subject: Re: 6.609 FYI: German as official language of the US

 Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 12:05:38 -0400 (EDT)
 From: Tom McClive (tommccemail.unc.edu)
 ....
 This story has been proved false, of course, but was helped along by the
 fact that German speakers were a sizeable minority in the states at that
 time.
 ....

These Germans were quite important, and my guess is that there were far more
of them than the phraze "sizeable minority" suggests. I red that Franklin
was stronglie motivated to invent his "stove" by fear of the efficient German
tile-stove, that burnt much less wood for the same heat than the open hearth,
so dear to the English. Note that the Franklin stove is no stove, although
it is much more efficient than the open hearth--but not as efficient as the
tile-stove, for it shows the open fire (the longing for the open fire seems
part of the USA s English heritage).

I red also that the squirrel-gun, or long rifle, was the work of German
gunsmiths, and I hav seen in Henry Ford s muzeum quite a few interestind
old guns, all which were the work of American German gunsmiths.

Then there is this last tidbit, I hope that I mind it aright, that the oftenest
named original foreign nationalitie is German, followd by English and Irish.
All in all, I believ that the German contribution to American life is much
greater than generallie acknowledged. It is important that the Germans in the
13 Colonies were more inward-turnd than the expansiv English, and were oftener
of an Anabaptist conviction.

By the wai, I am glad and thankful that at last I see the historie behind the
storie of German the USA s official language
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