Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty > The Hohenzollern

Royal Hohenzollern - German Used?

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy:

--- Quote from: bell_the_cat on January 07, 2006, 11:26:37 AM ---This is an interesting one. Even today some regional accents are more "hoffähig" - socially acceptable - than others. I would guess that southern german accents were more commonly used at court than in the north.
--- End quote ---

And ironically that too is of course all about perspective:
While the inhabitants of Northern Germany themselves consider Low German (Platt) boorish and have no equivalent of for example Stuttgart's Honoratiorenschwäbisch, it was in Scandinavia since the Late Middle Ages / Reformation (together with High German and in Norway also with Danish) a language of authority, power and status:
- religiously (the Danish Bible translation was full of Low German loan words),
- scholarly (university education was only available in Copenhagen (in the Reformation period also Rostock, Greifswald and Wittenberg))
- politically (for the reason given in Reply #8 above) and
- mercantile (because of the Hanseatic League, many South Jutish immigrants in Norway etc.).

Sometimes Low German and Danish clash with regard to phonology, e.g. with regard to p/b t/d k/g lenisation: Low German hopen, Danish håbe, Norwegian håpe, English "hope", German hoffen. In such cases the Danish form is traditionally given pre-eminence in Norway. (Queen Sonja uses the form Kongen og jeg håber, the King and I hope.) In many other cases Danish and Low German reinforce each other, e.g. with regard to monophtongisation: Low German steen, Danish sten, Norwegian stein, English "stone", German Stein. (Again Queen Sonja here uses the monophtonged form, not the Norwegian diphtonged form.) Newer Low German diphtonged forms like tau, two, thus sound like a contradiction in terms to a Norwegian ear!

And it's more patrician to say jebursdag as in Berlinish than the pedantic, written form geburtsdag or the Norwegian calque fødselsdag!


--- Quote from: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 11, 2010, 07:15:42 PM ---I don't know if she used the Low Saxon dialect of Holstein in her second (also folk-themed) novel "Durch den Nebel", which takes places on the Baltic coast of her ancestral Holstein and BTW also deals with the whole Danish-German nationality issue. (Unsurprisingly Feodora is pro-German: Up ewig ungedelt, as the saying goes in Low German!) I haven't read any of the books, but I am quite tempted to.

--- End quote ---

Having now read most of Durch den Nebel, I can say that it is strongly anti-Danish, in a political sense. The main character, handsome, smart and sympathetic poor fisher boy Lars Asmussen, who grows up speaking Danish on the Baltic coast of Schleswig in the last quarter of the 19th century, is promised a livelihood as a newspaper reporter and activist "for the Danish cause" by his parental relatives (after his alcoholic father has died, leaving the once prosperous farm so debt-ridden it has to be sold), but he rejects it, stating "I am German" and choosing a poorer, but freer life as an independent fisher, like his maternal grandfather, who once was a soldier in the army of Feodora's grandfather during the First War of Schleswig. Once more in life he is tempted by "Danish money", when trying to buy a steamer to transport the fish of the fishing co-operative he founds. Allegedly you could get a loan at a lower interest rate if you were a supporter of the Danish cause. (From Danish metropolitan or South Jutish banks?) But he takes the high, toilsome, German road here too.

It's interesting how Feodora describes anyone with a pro-Danish stance as fat, ugly, unsympathetic, greedy, stingy, clannish, artificial, alcoholic, unreliable, egoistical, exploitative and a corrupting influence. If you switch her "Danes" with Jews these parts would be your typical anti-Semitic babble. She falsely paints the towns of Schleswig as dominated by "Danes" and the countryside by "Germans", when in fact the opposite was the general tendency. What she probably has gotten right and seized upon is that the poorest parts of the population, like the landless fishermen and farm workers, didn't care whether they were Danish or German. They spoke South Jutish or Low German, dialects far removed from official Danish or German. The ones who did care a lot about the nationality question were the prosperous farmers who owned their own farms and whose children were educated to become the new middle class.

Besides that, Durch den Nebel is a rather lyrical, naturalistic and sympathetic portrayal of the Baltic shore of South Jutland and its social conditions in the late 19th century and of a somewhat romantic female imagination's impression of an idealized male hero who struggles with modernity, tradition, loss, love and life as a quite ordinary and toiling member of society. Feodora tries very hard to make her case that you can be both Danish (culturally), Nordic, Schleswig-Holsteinian AND German. (Her unspoken dream, in homage to her father and grandfather, seems to imply that you can be Schleswig-Holsteinian and German without being Prussian. Indeed, the whole imagery of the once prosperous farm that has to be abandoned because of a foolish, but beloved father's bad management is probably (an unconscious?) metaphor for her own family's exile.)

The novel can be read online here.


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