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«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»

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In “Vimala gehört zu uns” [Vimala is one of us] (Papiertiger 4, pp.184-187, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII and Tintenklecks 3, pp.6-7, Appendix B, p.XXVI-XXVII), Vimala, who has been identified as the „other‟ on the basis of her skin colour, is asked her name: “Haallooo, wiiieee heißt duuu?” [Heellooo, whaaaats your name?] (Tintenklecks 3, p.6). This question is followed by a justification for the manner of speech as the narrator explains that she asked “langsam und deutlich, damit [Vimala sie] verstehen konnte” [slowly and clearly, so that Vimala could understand her] (ibid, p.6). Vimala responded by saying that she can speak to her in a normal way since she is not stupid (ibid, p.6) and clarifies that she was born in Germany to Indian parents (ibid, p.6). As Vimala‟s adequate German skills are confirmed, her response implies that people who have a need for slow and clear speech are stupid, whereas in fact this may help many, who are in the process of learning German as a new language.

Believing that the ethnic and cultural „other‟ would understand better if he/she were spoken to in „incorrect‟ German is another notion which is represented in “Soham und Issa” [Soham and Issa] (Das Lesebuch 3, p.29, see book). When Soham und Issa move to a new home their mother sends them to play in the local playground.

There they are met with hostility and are told to go away. When Soham did not understand why she and her brother, Issa, were not allowed to play there a boy named Markus tells her: “Du können nix sprechen unsere Sprache?” [You not can speaking our language] This is followed by Jule‟s comment: “Du mich nicht verstehen? Du blöd.” [You not understand me? You stupid.] (ibid, p.29). The assumption of a language deficiency in relation to the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is again challenged and rectified as Soham replies angrily: “Warum sprichst du so komisch? Kannst du nicht richtig deutsch sprechen?” [Why do you speak so strangely? Can‟t you speak German properly?] (ibid, p.29).

Another text, where language expectations towards the „other‟ are challenged, is “Uwe findet sich zurecht” [Uwe finds his way around] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, pp.22see book). Uwe, who is from Romania, is praised by his teacher: “Ich freue mich besonders über Uwes Diktat. Er hat keinen Fehler gemacht. Das habe ich nicht erwartet, weil er ja aus einem anderen Land kommt, wo Deutsch eine Fremdsprache ist.” [I am especially happy with Uwe‟s dictation. He didn‟t make one mistake. I didn‟t expect that because he is from another country, where German is a foreign language.] (ibid, p.22). Apart from praising Uwe on his German language skills, she also shows an awareness of his first language.

Unlike Uwe, who already had a good command of German, Olga, in the text “Olgas Geschichte” [Olga‟s Story] (Das Lesebuch 4, pp.32-33, see book), had to learn the language when she came to Germany (Das Lesebuch 4, p.32). Olga‟s family are ethnic Germans who have resettled in Germany after living for several generations in Siberia. Olga‟s success in learning German is highlighted as she is now able to help her parents with their language course (ibid, p32). Her first language is also mentioned in the text as she translates her father‟s words from Russian to German for an interview with a newspaper reporter (ibid, p.33).

In “Jan kommt aus Deutschland” [Jan comes from Germany] (JO-JO Lesebuch 4, pp.68-71, see book) Paul, who was born in Germany but is of Kenyan origin, is referred to as speaking “so gut Deutsch wie die anderen Kinder” [German as well as the other children] (ibid, p.71). This comment is made just before the reader is told that Paul is sometimes faced with hostility in Germany on the basis of his skin colour (ibid, p.70). The reader therefore gets an impression that Jan cannot understand this, since Paul speaks perfect German and is “mehr wie ein Deutscher” [more like a German] (ibid, p.71).

And finally, Character B, in the poem “Dialog” [Dialogue] (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, p.42, Appendix B, p.II), speaks “so gut deutsch” [German so well] even though his/her mother was born in Iran (ibid, p.1). Here, Character A cannot comprehend how someone with a migrant background is able to speak such good German and

furthermore be a German:

–  –  –

Character A implies that on the basis of the skin/ hair colour, Character B cannot be German and therefore does not expect him/ her to speak such good German.

Having explored how language can be applied as a marker to create and emphasise difference, the next sub-category shows in what way skin colour creates a “we/they” setting.

5.2.3 Skin Colour

The ethnic and cultural „other‟ is presented or described as having a different skin colour to the majority of German society. Illustrations in textbooks often show people with different skin colours in an effort to portray ethnic and cultural diversity.

If no reference in terms of ethnic and cultural origin is made in the texts which accompany these illustrations, they convey ethnic and cultural diversity as societal normality and part of everyday life (an example of this is given under the ninth subcategory which deals with the „included other‟. However, emphasis on ethnic and cultural difference arises when an image showing a person with dark(er) skin colour directly corresponds to a text where a reference to a particular ethnic or cultural background is made. This combination has been found in ten texts.





An image in the text “Gemeinsam leben” [Living together] (Papiertiger 3, p.188, Appendix B, p.XIX), depicts Ahmet as a boy with dark skin (Image 1), while the text underneath mentions that “Ahmet kommt aus Africa” [Ahmet comes from Africa] (ibid, p.188). The text lists differences between a boy from Germany and Ahmet from Africa. As the illustration below shows, the difference is achieved through the attributive „Africa‟. The message of difference is further emphasised through the predication of the image, which shows Ahmet as having dark skin and the reference in the text to his lack of language skills.

–  –  –

In a similar way, Güneş, who is described as Turkish-speaking Muslim in “Warum gibt es eigentlich Ostern?” [Why do we actually have Easter?] (Das Auer Lesebuch 4, p.118, Appendix B, p.IX) a nd “Güneş” (Überall ist Lesezeit 3, p.50, see book) as well as Gökan in “Gökan hat Mut” [Gökan has courage] (Das Auer Lesebuch 3, pp.82-83, Appendix B, p.VII-VIII), also of Turkish origin (see Image 2), the Egyptian girl Laila in “Coco und Laila” [Coco and Laila] (Das Lesebuch 4, pp.24see book) and Italian-speaking Carlo in “Fremde Sprachen klingen anders” [Foreign languages sound different] (Papiertiger 3, p.177, Appendix B, p.XX) are shown as having darker skin colour, while their origins are specified within text.

–  –  –

In “Faschingshexe Nina” [Carnival-Witch Nina] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, p.114, Appendix B, p.XVII) the character Tea is presented with a darker skin tone.

Although no reference is made to Tea‟s ethnic or cultural background, the texts points out that “sie lebt im Asylantenheim” [she lives in an asylum seekers‟ home] (ibid, p.114) and therefore is not a member of the German majority, i.e., she is an ethnic and cultural „other‟.

Skin colour is not only used in reference to a particular ethnic or cultural background in imagery, but is also described in some texts. Vimala‟s description of her “sehr dunkle Haut” [very dark skin] (Papiertiger 4, p.184, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII) and Tintenklecks 3, p.6, Appendix B, p.XXVI-XXVII), for example, is confirmed in the images which accompany the text (Image 3).

–  –  –

Likewise, in “Jan kommt aus Deutschland” [Jan is from Germany] (Jo-Jo 4, pp.68see book) the skin colour of his friend Paul, who is of Kenyan descent, is also mentioned in the text when Jan describes how an elderly man insulted Paul “wegen seiner dunklen Hautfarbe” [because of his dark skin colour] (ibid, p.71). An image underneath the text, showing Jan and Paul, confirms Paul‟s darker skin colour (ibid, p.71).

Both texts, “Vimala gehört zu uns” [Vimala is one of us] (Papiertiger 4, pp.184-187, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII) and “Jan kommt aus Deutschland” [Jan comes from Germany] (Jo-Jo 4, p.68-71, see book), explore the issue of discrimination on the basis of skin colour, which is discussed in the analysis in the section entitled “Hostility”. Therefore, it was probably necessary to highlight the skin colour in both instances.

Another character portrayed with darker skin in image and text is Character B (Image 4) in the “Dialog” [Dialogue] (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, p.42, Appendix B, p.II). Character B is described by her dialogue partner Character A as “so schwarzhaarig and dunkel...” [so black-haired and dark] (ibid, p.42).

Image 4

–  –  –

Lastly, in a short story, entitled “Wer ist der Täter?” [Who is the culprit?] by the Austrian children‟s author Erwin Moser (Überall ist Lesezeit 4, pp.83-85, see book), one character is described as having dark skin, while the images that accompany the story confirm this fact. This story is about an elderly lady in a shopping centre lift, who misses her diamond brooch after the lift has been stuck for a short while. The

people in the lift are described as follows:

Ein beleibter Herr in dunklem Anzug, der eine dünne Zigarre rauchte; ein ungefähr zwanzigjähriges Mädchen mit dunkler Hautfarbe – offensichtlich eine Ausländerin; ein glatzköpfiger Mann mit Aktentasche, der sehr nervös wirkte; ein junger Mann in Jeans und mit Brille, der fortwährend Kaugummi kaute; ein alter Herr mit Schnurrbart, der sehr griesgrämig dreinschaute, und eine ältere Dame mit einem sonderbaren, auffälligen gelben Hut (ibid, pp.83-84).

[A stout man in a dark suit, who smoked a thin cigar; a girl, aged about twenty, with a dark skin colour – obviously a foreigner; a bald man with a briefcase, who appeared to be very agitated; a young man in jeans and glasses, who continuously chewed chewing gum; an old man with moustache, who looked very cranky, and an elderly lady with a strange, bright yellow hat.] The adverb “offensichtlich” can be read in two different ways. The first way could be in the sense of „clearly‟, which would make the relationship between the girl with the dark skin colour and her label as “Ausländerin” [foreigner] an indisputable one i.e. the girl, aged about twenty, with dark skin colour is clearly a foreigner. If the adverb, however, is read as „apparently‟ there is some room for speculation, which makes the phrase an assumption rather than fact. In any case, the emphasis on the girl‟s skin colour and its association with the ethnic and cultural „other‟ clearly creates a separation from the rest of the group. It is implied that she might not really belong there. Furthermore, no consideration is given to the possibility of her being German (Austrian).

In the examples given above, the visual illustration of characters with darker skin tone is always associated with their being the ethnic and cultural „other‟ and this is affirmed as such through direct reference within the text.

5.2.4 Religious Difference The ethnic and cultural „other‟ is sometimes presented as having a different belief/ religion than the German Christian majority. Therefore, skin colour is not the only means used to illustrate difference in textbooks. Reference to a particular religious group is made by the portrayal of characters wearing a defining form of religious dress. As it is the case with the portrayal of different skin colour, if no reference in terms of ethnic and cultural origin is made in the texts which accompany these illustrations, they convey ethnic and cultural diversity as societal normality and part of everyday life. References to religious difference in text and/ or images have been found in seven texts.

5.2.4.1 Religious Difference Portrayed in Texts



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