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Conservative wants German language enshrined in constitution

The Local · 10 Sep 2010, 09:06

Published: 10 Sep 2010 09:06 GMT+02:00

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“The protection of the German language should be anchored in constitutional law,” the general secretary for the CSU told daily Bild. “Respect for our German language is respect for our culture and our country, which we demand from all who live among us.”

Without a common language there can be no effective integration, Dobrindt told the paper, adding that anyone who avoided German was also avoiding properly integrating in the country.

In December 2008 members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, which are the sister party to the Bavarian CSU, suggested a similar move. At their party convention they proposed adding the phrase, “The language of the Federal Republic of Germany is German,” to the constitution.

Saarland state premier Peter Müller said at the time that the party needed to focus on what “the nation stands for,” adding that along with the nation’s flag the German language is paramount.

Party delegates ultimately voted in favour of the motion that if ever passed by parliament could change Article 22 of the constitution, which already states that Berlin is Germany’s capital, and the flag is black, red and gold.

Story continues below…

The vote to anchor the language wording in the constitution, however, was seen in some political quarters as unnecessary patriotic chest-thumping by the conservatives.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:41 September 10, 2010 by liorabs
They are right.

One of the problems of EU is tyhe multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities and languages.

If you dont protect your language, you might be left with nothing on both ends in ten or twenty years.

I am an Israeli Jews. The Jewish people was preserved, to a large extent, by the Hebrew Language. And though it was not secularly used, it was revived as a miracle that nobody can deny.

Germany must protect its language.

And by the way, this also involve many financial aspects. For example, editors, writers, translators, educators. And what is the official language of EU?
14:11 September 10, 2010 by freechoice
instead of being monolingual, can we be bi or trilingual? does it mean we can only speak German in the country, even within our family members?

what about giving immigrants free language courses if the language is going to be enshrined into the constitution?
16:11 September 10, 2010 by Bildad
If Germany does not protect it's heritage and language...who will? One of the primary requirements for economic migrants should be that they speak German fluently before acceptance. Forget tax paid English classes after the fact.
17:28 September 10, 2010 by Beachrider
The Canadian constitution provides for a rigid bi-lingual existence that has become less-and-less valid. They have found that language is a fluid thing. Their dominant immigration source is Asia. Most of these immigrants will learn one language for immigration purposes and retain their ancestral language for 'home'. This is leaving Canadian-French in an increasingly isolated situation.

The lesson for Germany is that ancestral languages won't go away, but people will accept rules about public/legal information/documents. The trick for Germany is that this will dilute 'German' over time. It used to be funny how much the French complain about Franglais, but it has become a trite complaint.

Today's German is almost unrecognizable from the language of the middle-ages. It is easily-noticed that it changed from a hundred years ago. So long as no one tries to ossify German, they could certainly insist that certain commerce, public and legal documentation be done in current-German.
18:15 September 10, 2010 by NYsteve
Germany SHOULD protect it's language. ANY person emigrating to Germany should have a "working" knowledge of German. They may not be as well-versed in the language as a native, but they should be able to communicate with anyone in that country. English may be used more between peoples of different origins as a common or working language, but there should be the requirement to learn German...which I am sure there is if you want to emigrate. Every country in the world need to protect the native language otherwise slowly they will disappear. And yes, if the state wants this protection...there should be FREE language classes to teach German.
18:37 September 10, 2010 by recherche
Homo sapiens prevails because of the synergism inherent in social behaviour. Of course the German language should be aggressively protected. The alternative is disintegration such as you see elsewhere. Germany must control it's destiny. If someone wishes to live in Europe they should earn the right so to do. And there should be obstacles. Alternatively they can stay at home - is that so bad?
18:56 September 10, 2010 by BarryNorton
@NYSteve Nonsense - since the Treaty of Nice Europeans have had the right to settle here without any such impediment. My German wasn't good when I moved here. On the other hand I agree that one should acquire a working knowledge of German in order to stay.

There again, I think the same about English in English-speaking countries (one _migrates_ to a country - perhaps you meant "any person emigrating in order to immigrate to Germany")
19:05 September 10, 2010 by archilochus
An even better idea is for German citizens to cease responding in English to any foreigner who speaks to them. This does not occur in France, Italy, or Spain. German individuals appear to be very preoccupied with speaking English, however incompetently, at every possible occasion, persisting in English very often even when their conversation partner continues to respond in German. There is a determination here--to speak English-- that is very puzzling. This practice seriously hinders the efforts of foreigners to learn the German language while in Germany. An amendment to the Constitution is a good idea, as is reviewing national policies of posting everything around the country in English, but German citizens would do well to consider insightfully why they are so eager to abandon their native language in a social setting and jump into English. German is a beautiful, wonderful language that should be cared for, nurtured, and protected.
20:09 September 10, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, obviously people are free to speak whatever language they choose, when they are in a private setting. However, once you enter the public, then without question, there must be a common language. This is absolutely imperative.

Here is more food for thought. There are some 200 countries in the world.

And there are literally a countless number of languages. And in order to move efficiently from one country to another, we travel by jet airplane. In order to do this effectively, pilots must speak a common language, which is English.

Place a very high degree of respect one's self, culture, language and way of life.

If all 6.8 billion of us were to do this, then obviously we would have a perfect world.
23:12 September 10, 2010 by Beachrider
As to native-Germans reaching-out to English speakers, it is obviously the choice of the native. Perhaps 10-15 years ago, the French made a point of NOT speaking English to visitors. Vestiges of this persist in France today. It notably reduced the interest of Tourists in going to France, but it probably caused those-that-went to attempt basic-French as well.

There is some irony to have this discussion on THIS website...

As to the use of English in commercial aeronautics, it suited that industry to ensure that all pilots could talk with all air-controllers. It really isn't 100% followed, though.
02:18 September 11, 2010 by padu
¦quot;The language of the Federal Republic of Germany is German,¦quot;

So dont blame CHina for teaching Chinese in Tibeten schools because same are written in Chinese Constitution.

And from now on, you can refuse to speak English to anyone who speak it to you. But what are Germans learn English for while all people around the world will refuse to speak it to you too. I'd love to see millions of German tourists or overseas workers facing mocking challenge all around. Good luck!
03:57 September 11, 2010 by HarryC
It is ridiculous that Germans would let this ridiculous charade go on.

In Scandinavia, Scandinavians are very proud of their languages too. Then, the similarity stops here.

Scandinavians speak English willingly. English is on their TVs all the time. Government agencies and businesses are very willingly to help foreigners in English on most occasions.

Surprisingly. the very absolute majority of the immigrants there can speak one of the Scandinavian languages very confidently and English with incredible ease.

Naturally most Germans demanded to be served in German in Scandinavia too. Guess what, Scandinavians just speak German back to the Germans with a smile.

It is pathetic to make comparisons with France, Italy and Spain. Why not make comparisons with Switzerland in the language department more often?
20:59 September 12, 2010 by estone
Why is it that immigrants have to get free German lessons if the language is going to be enshrined in the constitution? Nothing is free in this world. If a foreigner wants to live in Germany the minimum that one would expect is that they make an attempt to acquire some working knowledge of German. By the way, I am a foreigner not only struggling with high German but with Bairisch.
22:01 September 12, 2010 by Struwel
"And what is the official language of EU?"

The EU has twenty-three official languages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_European_Union) and, as far as I know, three working languages: English, French and German.
23:12 September 12, 2010 by hanskarl
"One of the problems of EU is the multiplicity of cultures, ethnicity and languages."

It is called parallelism. Do no the Swiss have extremely stringent requirements for entry into their country and length of stay. Correct me if I am wrong but you have to wait I believe 10 years before being made a citizen and you must be completely proficient in one of their languages and the testing is quite difficult. You have no choice but to integrate and assimilate.
01:12 September 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This appears at first blush to be yet another strategem to discourage immigration by some... ahem... undesirable elements. Beware the language police.

Since English is the de facto lingua franca of the planet, like it or not, because of globalized commerce, etc., this proposal is not only silly but potentially harmful to the German economy that depends so heavily on tourism and international trade. But so be it. I propose striking all German words and phrases -- like kindergarten, angst and schadenfreude -- from the English language for the sake of purity. Then the Americans can speak only Spanglish and the Brits can speak whatever language it is that they speak. Air traffic controllers and pilots can all learn German and all flights beyond German borders will be grounded.

In this time of global economic crisis, cultural and religious warfare, this is the silliest goddamn proposal I've heard. Haven't we more important things to worry about?
02:17 September 13, 2010 by ErnestPayne
Enshrining a language fossilises the language, witness the French attempt to drive out "english" words. With minor language groups vanishing I can understand the concern. However, a vigorous "defense" of the language would be to foster its teaching in other countries. It might be useful to adapt to the English languages ability to steal words from other languages without qualms. After all tsunami is far easier to say than earthquake induced tidal wave.
16:20 September 13, 2010 by Johann USA
This is imperative and must be done. Just like english needs to be established as the offical language in the USA. Keep Germany German.
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