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Origin is also addressed in the text “Gemeinsam leben” [Living together] (Papiertiger 3, p.188, Appendix B, p.XIX). This text compares characteristics of an unnamed boy from Germany and Ahmet from Africa. These will be examined in more detail later on in the analysis in the sub-categories of Language and Skin colour).
In a story about a young girl‟s experiences moving to Germany, the reader is already made aware of her origins in the story‟s title “Katharina aus Russland” [Katharina from Russia] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, pp.72-73, Appendix B, p.XVIII). Katharina tells us that she is from Saratow, “eine Stadt in Russland” [a city in Russia] (ibid, p.72).
In the story she talks about her time in Russia and her new life in Germany. She remembers that she did not want to go to Germany at first: “Ich wollte nicht weg, denn ich kannte Deutschland nicht.” (I did not want to go because I did not know Germany] (ibid). In Germany she “war immer alleine” [was always alone] (ibid, p.73), she did not understand the German language. However, at the end of the text the reader is told that this has changed now as she can speak German as well as she speaks Russian (ibid).
Another character from Russia is Olga. She features in a text entitled “Olgas Geschichte” [Olga‟s Story] (Das Lesebuch 4, pp.32-33, see book). “Olga kommt aus Sibirien. Das ist in Russland.” [Olga comes from Siberia. It is in Russia.] (ibid, p.32). She is of ethnic German descent. Similar to Katharina‟s story, this text tells readers about Olga and her family‟s life in Siberia as well as their experiences in Germany, where her parents are learning German as a new language and where they are met with questions of identity.
Having looked at the how the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is marked as different by referring to a person‟s origin, creating an immediate „we/ them‟ setting and excluding the possibility of people being bi-cultural, the next sub-category will show how difference is created by referring to a person‟s first language.
5.2.2 Language Under this sub-category the ethnic and cultural „other‟, is referred to as speaking a language other than German, is presented as speaking German imperfectly, is presumed to not understand German or a combination of these. Here certain references to language create and/ or emphasise the perceived difference of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in relation to the majority.
The complexity of language in relation to identity and its use as a measure of cultural affiliation is a theme in many texts. Many migrants, having grown up in different countries, naturally do not speak German as a first language when they arrive in Germany. Although most acquire the German language soon after, as it is a requirement for the naturalisation process (Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Migration, Flüchtlinge, und Integration 2008, p.19), the inability to speak it fluently is often seen as a deficit. This shortcoming in turn is seen as one attribute which sets the ethnic and cultural „other‟ apart from the majority. The theme of language has been identified in 17 texts17.
The text “Gemeinsam leben” [Living Together] (Papiertiger 3, p.188, Appendix B, p.XIX) illustrates this in the form of a comparison between a German boy and Ahmet from Africa. While the difference of origin has been stated in the first line of comparison, the second line affirms a parallel, as both are in third grade. The third line then states two positives as the boy living in Germany loves writing while Ahmet is good at playing football. The last line seeks to compare negatives. The boy from Germany states that he does not paint very well. The negative in relation to Ahmet relates to his German language deficiency: “Er versteht noch schlecht Deutsch” [His does not understand German well yet] (ibid, p.188).
The „other‟ in “Christina – Freunde gibt es überall” [Christina – Friends are everywhere] (Tintenklecks 4. Klasse, p.14, Appendix B, p.XXVIII), an extract from a book of the same title by Inge Meyer-Dietrich, is Kenan. He is described as coming from the former Yugoslavia and barely able to speak German (ibid, p.14). His The text “Soham und Issa” [Soham and Issa] (Das Lesebuch 3 D, p.29) appears twice under this sub-category as the theme of language emerged in two different contexts.
language weakness here is not just associated with his non-German roots, which set him apart from the majority in his class, but is also seen as a barrier between him and the other children: “Deshalb wissen die Kinder manchmal nicht, wie sie sich mit Kenan unterhalten sollen” [That‟s why the children sometimes don‟t know how to talk to Kenan] (ibid, p.14).
German is also seen to be an obstacle for Katharina, when she first came to Germany. In a text entitled “Katharina aus Russland” [Katharina from Russia] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, pp.72-73, Appendix B, p.XVIII) she tells students about her experiences when moving from Russia to Germany. Although the children at school were friendly, she could not understand them and hence “war immer alleine” [was always alone] (ibid, p.73). She quickly learnt to understand German, but was anxious to speak it. However, Katharina can now speak German as well as she can speak Russian and can write it even better (ibid, p.73). Her German communication skills seem to have helped her in overcoming the barrier to her fellow students for she now loves going to school and refers to them and herself in an inclusive way using the plural pronoun „we‟ as opposed to “die anderen Kinder” [the other children] (ibid, p.73) saying: “Wir ärgern am liebsten die Jungen” [We mostly love to pick on the boys] (ibid, p.73). A postcard written in Russian by Katharina to her grandmother accompanies the text, highlighting her first language. Katharina‟s language learning is further highlighted in the comprehension section which follows the text. Students are asked what Katharina‟s most important expressions were in her new language (German) (ibid, p.74).
Language deficiency is also a characteristic of Aischa as well, who appears in two extracts, “Neben mir ist noch Platz” [There is a place next to me] (Das Auer Lesebuch 3, pp.100-101, Appendix B, p.VI) and “Picknick bei Aischa” [Picnic with Aischa] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, pp.148-149, see book). The first text tells the story of how Aischa became friends with Steffi, after she rescued Steffi, who had been locked up in the changing room of the gym. In the second extract Steffi is invited to a picnic with Aischa and her family. Aischa, whose family is from Lebanon (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, p.149), is given an active role conversing with her German friend Steffi. Although Aischa has learnt German very quickly, she still makes mistakes (Das Auer Lesebuch 3, p.100). Her imperfect communication skills are displayed in both texts as part of her speech. She tells Steffi for example: “Du seist meine beste Freundin” [You being my best friend] (ibid, p.100). When Steffi corrects Aischa saying “Du bist meine beste Freundin” [You are my best friend] (ibid, p.100), she is presented as not understanding the correction but rather sees Steffi‟s reply as a statement and therefore replies: “Wirklich? Sehr schön. Ich freue” [Really? Very nice. I happy] (ibid, p.100) omitting the reflexive pronoun „mich‟, i.e., „ich freue mich‟ [I am happy]. And when introducing her family to Steffi, Aischa omits the possessive pronoun „meine‟: “Das ist kleine Schwester Fatima und große Schwester Leila.” [This is small sister Fatima and big sister Leila.] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, p.148).
Similar to the representation of Aischa, in the text “Soham und Issa” [Soham and Issa] (Das Lesebuch 3 D, p.29, see book), an extract from Elisabeth Reuter‟s book “Soham. Eine Geschichte vom Fremdsein”, the mother of the children Soham and Issa is characterised by her language skills. When Soham reminds her mother to speak German because she will not learn it properly otherwise (ibid, p.29) her mother replies: “Ich habe Dämmerung im Kopf” [My head has shut down] and “Viel Arbeit. Kann nicht deutsch denken. Morgen wieder. Jetzt lauft, zum Spielen.” [Lots of work. Cannot think German. Tomorrow again. Now go and play.] (ibid, p.29).
In an extract from Peter Härtling‟s book “Ben liebt Anna” [Ben loves Anna] (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, pp.44-45, Appendix B, p.III) the ethnic and cultural „other‟ named Anna comes from Poland. She is met with hostility by her class-mate Katja: “Die stinkt”, meinte sie, “und richtig schreiben kann sie auch nicht. Mit zehn kann die nicht einmal richtig schreiben” [“She smells”, she said, “and she cannot write properly. At ten she can‟t even write properly”] (ibid, p.44). Anna‟s weakness in writing German is used here to emphasise her difference. However, another boy, named Bernhard, comments that Anna can perhaps write Polish (ibid, p.44).
In another extract taken from the same story, which appears under the title “Wo Anna wohnt” [Where Anna lives] in the Auer Lesebuch 4, Ben commends her for her German language skills, which she has learnt from her parents. Here he thinks that Anna can be proud of learning German from her mother and father (Auer Lesebuch 4, p.36, Appendix B, pp.XI-XIII).
Interest in the native tongue of the „other‟ is shown in a text entitled “Günèş” (Überall ist Lesezeit 3, p.50, see book)18. Günèş, who was six when she came to Germany from Turkey, describes her experience of learning German. After initially having difficulties learning the new language, she now speaks it nearly as well as she can Turkish, which she speaks at home. Günèş tells the reader about her neighbour Marietta, who taught her the colours in German with the help of coloured Easter eggs. In this text, her native language, Turkish, seems to stand on an equal footing with German as Günèş in turn tells Marietta what the colours are called in Turkish.
In a similar way Özlem in “Wir stellen Lieblingsbücher vor” [We introduce Favourite Books] (Pusteblume 3, pp. 84-85, see book) is shown to speak German and Turkish. In this text she tells readers about her favourite book “Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze” [A birthday cake for the cat] by Sven Nordqvist. She also says that she reads the Turkish language version of the book to her small sister.
A picture showing Özlem accompanies the text (ibid, p.84), while an illustration shows a sample page of the Turkish version (ibid, p.85).
In “Spaziergänge mit Papa” [Walks with Dad] (Das Lesebuch 3, pp.30-34, see book), a father and his daughter are discussing the meaning and concept of difference when they encounter a group of tourists in their town. The tourists speak a
non-European language which highlights their difference to the majority in the text:
“Schau mal Papa, die Leute, die da an dem Brunnen stehen. Und was die für ein Geschrei machen. Verstehst Du, was sie sagen? “Nein, diese Sprache kenne ich auch nicht. Das ist, glaube ich, keine europäische Sprache. Die Leute kommen bestimmt von weit her” (ibid, p.31).
[“Have a look Dad, the people who stand by the fountain. And what noise they make. Do you understand what they are saying?” “No, I don‟t know this language. I do not think it is a European language. These people probably come from far away.”] This text appears in two different textbooks: Das Auer Lesebuch 4 and Überall is Lesezeit 3.
However, the text in Das Auer Lesebuch 4 does not include the part where Günèş interacts with Marietta.
In the poem “Fremde Sprachen klingen anders” [Foreign languages sound different] (Papiertiger 3, p.177, Appendix B, p.XX), Carlo is learning German after approaching a local boy, who at first distanced himself from him because he could not understand him, for help: “Hei! Ich jetzt eure Sprache lern! Du mir helfen?
Bitte? Gern?” [Hi! I now your language learn! You helping me? Please? Gladly?] (ibid, p.177). Carlo‟s native tongue, Italian, is presented in the poem as an asset and an opportunity for the German boy, who learns Italian from Carlo.
In a number of texts there is an assumption of language deficiency on the part of the majority towards the ethnic and cultural „other‟. Members of the majority are seen to presume that the „other‟, who has previously been identified as different on grounds of physical appearance such as skin colour or traditional/ religious clothing, also lacks competency in German. With this presumption in mind they approach the „other‟ speaking, for example, very slowly.