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Germans from Different Places: Constructing a German Space in Urban Canada

  • Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain (a1) and Grit Liebscher (a2)

This paper deals with the role of the distinction between Germans from speech islands (the so-called Volksdeutsche) and Germans from Germany (the so-called Reichsdeutsche) in conceptualizing the German community in urban Canada. First, 64 interviews with members of this community were analyzed for stretches of talk in which that distinction was made relevant. Then, a subset of these was chosen for the analysis presented here. Our analysis of these six excerpts employs both conversation analysis and positioning theory in order to show how participants draw on various aspects of place, ethnicity, and time in constructing a German space in Canada and their own ethnic identities in connection with it.*

Corresponding author
University of Alberta, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, 200 Arts Bldg. Edmonton AB T6G 2E6, Canada, []
University of Waterloo, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, Modern Languages Building, Room 313, 200 University Avenue, West Waterloo ON N2L 3G1, Canada, []
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Mike Baynham . 2003. Narratives in space and time: Beyond “backdrop” accounts of narrative orientation. Narrative Inquiry 13. 347366.

Doris Bergen . 1994. The Nazi concept of ‘Volksdeutsche’ and the exacerbation of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, 1939–45. Journal of Contemporary History 29. 569582.

Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain , & Grit Liebscher . 2009. Dialect use and discursive identities of migrants from the west in eastern Germany. Language, discourse, and identity in Central Europe. The German language in a multilingual space, ed. by Jenny Carl & Patrick Stevenson , 185202. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jila Ghomeshi , Ray Jackendoff , Nicole Rosen , & Kevin Russell . 2004. Contrastive focus reduplication in English (the salad-salad paper). Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22. 307357.

Charles Goodwin , & John Heritage . 1990. Conversation analysis. Annual Review of Anthropology 19. 283307.

Ron Harré , & Luk van Langenhove. 1991. Varieties of positioning. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 21. 393407.

Richard Jenkins . 2008. Rethinking ethnicity: Arguments and explorations. London, Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Lesley Milroy . 1980. Language and social networks. Oxford: Blackwell.

Petra Scott Shenk . 2007. “I'm Mexican, remember?” Constructing ethnic identities via authenticating discourse. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11. 194220.

Patrick Stevenson , & Jenny Carl . 2010. Language and social change in Central Europe: Discourses on policy, identity and the German language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

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Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1470-5427
  • EISSN: 1475-3014
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-germanic-linguistics
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