Thursday, October 23, 2008

The world's languages are no stranger to Nashville

Centennial Park speech: "...thanks to the German-American press..."

Tennessee Staatszeitung, Emigrant Und Beobachter

Reminders are everywhere that Nashville's present is not English only - see this salute from the Nashville Scene to the national media for the Belmont debate ("English only. What you'll be speaking for the duration of your stay in Nashville, though perhaps not what you'll be hearing.") and this local middle school where the students speak 37 languages.

This week's Scene (see here) also mentions in passing that linguistic diversity is in Nashville's past as well as its present - referring to a German-language newspaper which once flourished in Nashville:
His thorough research allows him to take on everything from minstrelsy to Mozart. In more than 200 vintage photographs, he showcases editorials from long-gone publications such as the German language newspaper the Tennessee Staatszeitung, pictorial renderings of historic buildings like an 1835 Christ Church Episcopal and posters from an 1873 performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
According to snippets available on Google Books, the Staatszeitung wasn't the only such Tennessee paper almost a century and a half ago. Contemporaries included Emigrant Und Beobachter (also Nashville), Sudliche Post (Chattanooga), and Anzeiger des Sudens (Memphis).

At the German American Day at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition inaugurating Centennial Park in 1897, the role of German-language newspapers as an integration tool was praised in a speech that landed in the New York Times:

Image of German newspapers by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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