Skip to main content

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, []
Hide All
Antaki, Charles, & Widdicombe, Sue. 1998. Identities in talk. London: Sage.
Bassler, Gerhard P. 1998. German-Canadian identity in historical perspective. A chorus of different voices. German-Canadian identities, ed. by Sauer, Angelika E. & Zimmer, Matthias, 8598. New York: Peter Lang.
Baynham, Mike. 2003. Narratives in space and time: Beyond “backdrop” accounts of narrative orientation. Narrative Inquiry 13. 347366.
Bergen, Doris. 1994. The Nazi concept of ‘Volksdeutsche’ and the exacerbation of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, 1939–45. Journal of Contemporary History 29. 569582.
Dailey-O'Cain, Jennifer, & Liebscher, Grit. 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 Carl, Jenny & Stevenson, Patrick, 185202. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
De Certeau, Michel. 1988. The practice of everyday life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Ghomeshi, Jila, Jackendoff, Ray, Rosen, Nicole, & Russell, Kevin. 2004. Contrastive focus reduplication in English (the salad-salad paper). Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22. 307357.
Giampapa, Frances. 2004. The politics of identity, representation, and the discourses of self-identification: Negotiating the periphery and the center. Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts, ed. by Pavlenko, Aneta & Blackledge, Adrian, 192218. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame analysis. New York: Harper & Row.
Goodwin, Charles, & Heritage, John. 1990. Conversation analysis. Annual Review of Anthropology 19. 283307.
Gumperz, John. 1982. Language and social identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harré, Ron, & Luk van Langenhove. 1991. Varieties of positioning. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 21. 393407.
Jenkins, Richard. 2008. Rethinking ethnicity: Arguments and explorations. London, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Langenhove, Luk van, & Harré, Ron.) 1993. Positioning and autobiography: Telling your life. Discourse and lifespan identity, ed. by Coupland, Nikolas, Nussbaum, John. F., & Grossman, Alan, 8199. London: Sage.
Milroy, Lesley. 1980. Language and social networks. Oxford: Blackwell.
Pavlenko, Aneta, & Blackledge, Adrian (eds.). 2004. Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Prokop, Manfred, & Bassler, Gerhard. 2004. German language maintenance across Canada: A handbook. Edmonton: University of Alberta.
Shenk, Petra Scott. 2007. “I'm Mexican, remember?” Constructing ethnic identities via authenticating discourse. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11. 194220.
Stevenson, Patrick, & Carl, Jenny. 2010. Language and social change in Central Europe: Discourses on policy, identity and the German language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1470-5427
  • EISSN: 1475-3014
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-germanic-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 29 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 90 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.