Germany, USA

Another Perspective.

Just stumbled on the US Census website and found this genealogical break-up of the US population. Not that their ancestors’ cultural origins would matter in current affairs – US immigrants of German descent always assimilated quickly and – given the German history in the 20th century understandably – were never too keen to showcase their heritage like the Irish or Italians.

You can easily count German bars and restaurants in New York using your two hands. Try that for Irish pubs… But the fact that I could find my grand-dads grave inscript on an American genealogy website tells me these roots are still some sort of mood setter when it comes to looking at European nations.

I think the numbers are quite telling (indicating self-declared descent):

US population of self-declared German descent.

US population of self-declared French descent.

While I roughly knew about the above numbers – this I found rather surprising.

US population of self-declared English descent.

Doesn’t comprise the Scottish and Irish immigrants. But even if you add the numbers for those three nationalities available at the US Bureau of Census they only roughly match the German number.

Assuming the German immigrants’ decision to renounce to speaking German was a market driven one – motivated by the fact that the English was the elite-language spoken by the founding fathers (when French was the elite language at European courts), I find it striking that today’s hispanic immigrants seem to stick to their ancestors’ language a lot more despite a cultural hegemony of English that cannot be assumed for the days of the westward expansion.

If, back then, Germans believed they could become part of the elite by speaking English and Hispanics do not, if even the US president is broadcasting speeches in Spanish, is that telling us something about the real options of immigrants in the US today? Or about the German immigrants relationship to their country and/or their language? Or is it just too early to tell?

Intruiging questions to which I do not have an answer (yet).