Department of Germanic Studies

Talk by Craig Alan Volker on Rabaul Creole German: a linguistic remnant of Germany's Pacific empire

Wed, January 29, 2020 | BUR 337

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Talk by Craig Alan Volker on Rabaul Creole German: a linguistic remnant of Germany's Pacific empire

Talk by Craig Alan Volker from James Cook University

 

Rabaul Creole German: a linguistic remnant of Germany's Pacific empire.

From 1884 to 1914 the northeastern part of what is today Papua New Guinea was under German control. In an effort to create a nucleus of Christian Melanesians with European values, German Catholic missionaries at Vunapope near Rabaul on New Britain (then Neupommern) took “mixed-race” children from their indigenous mothers to raise in a special orphanage and school. Most children spoke at least some Tok Pisin (Melanesian Pidgin English), but the language of the school and dormitories was German. As well as learning Standard German, the children developed their own speech variety, an in-group way of speaking that in many ways was based on Melanesian Pidgin English but relexi ed with German. They called this Rabaul Creole German “Unserdeutsch” (“Our German”). Today the language is spoken by only around 100 people, none younger than 50. In the process of Rabaul Creole German being documented by Euro- pean linguists, its speakers have developed a renewed pride in their highly endangered language and unique heritage.

Sponsored by: Texas German Dialect Project, Germanic Studies, Linguistics Research Center, and the Texas Language Center

Bookmark and Share