Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Bringing Unserdeutsch to the Web

After finishing my masters degree with the successful acceptance of my thesis about Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German), I pursued little further research on the language. I accepted a job at Aiyura National High School in the PNG Eastern HIghlands, and was kept busy settling into a new country, becoming fluent in Tok Pisin, starting a new family, and eventually starting doctoral work on the Nalik language of New Ireland, an Austronesian vernacular that was only sparsely documented in the 1980s.

By the beginning of the 21st century, however, I was professor of languages at the Gifu Shotoku Gakuen University in Japan. Over the years a number of graduate students from German-speaking Europe found their way to me through Internet searches. They were interested in Rabaul Creole German and often wanted to check one or another characteristic of the language. One, Friedel Martin Frowein,was especially keen and much more computer-savvy than me. He put up a website with the support of the German Gesellschaft für Bedrohte Sprachen (Society for Endangered Langauges). This website is still active at: http://www.uni-koeln.de/gbs/unserdeutsch/index.html. It has a number of papers about Unserdeutsch, as well as digitalised copies of some of the recordings I made during the 1970s.

Through this website the number of people who have become aware of the language has steadily increased. Among the people who have contacted me through this website was a reporter for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who wrote about the language in the context of modern German attitudes towards cultural identity ad integration in a multicultural society.

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