Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, July 26, 2010

Alsace and Language

The two regions in which we'll be spending the rest of the summer, Alsace and Lorraine, are almost as closely tied to Germany as they are to France. Strasbourg joined France in the late 1600's but Germany annexed both Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870's. The regions returned to France after World War 1, only to be taken over again during WWII from 1940-44. The food, the architecture and the attitudes owe much to Germany and the language shows it. We can hear the German influence in the French spoken here and, in fact, there is a kind of "high" German called Elsassisch, that is still spoken locally. People here seem to get along fine in both French and German, although they are usually more comfortable in one than the other. Listening to people speak in Kunheim while we watched the third place match in the World Cup between Germany and Uruguay, one person would speak in French but the reply might come in German, or some combination of the two. In Colmar, when Tim asked the girl cleaning the capitanerie if it was alright to walk across they newly mopped floor, her reply was a perfect example of the language combination. "Alles c'est bon," she said in German and French.

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