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  • IF the US spoke German instead of English

    Supposedly the early US Congress selected English as the official language of the US by only one vote. The other language was supposedly German. IF the US had indeed selected German what difference might this have made on the history of the past 200 + years? Would WWI & WWII still have happened, would the US have sided with Germany instead of England?

    HP
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Half Pint View Post
    Supposedly the early US Congress selected English as the official language of the US by only one vote. The other language was supposedly German.
    I believe you are correct.

    IF the US had indeed selected German what difference might this have made on the history of the past 200 + years?
    Hmm.
    Interesting question.
    You know, I'll go out on a limb and say no that it would not have changed history.
    In spite of the language spoken in America, I think people over the decades would have come up with the same political views as history unfolded.

    Would WWI & WWII still have happened, would the US have sided with Germany instead of England?
    HP
    I think the wars would have happened as they did.
    Pearl Harbor brought America into WWII.
    Interestingly, if we were speaking German, would we have been as willing to supply the British with supplies as a neutral nation, while Britain was at war with Germany?
    Knowing Franklin Roosevelt, and how he felt about Adolf Hitler and what the Fuhrer was doing conquering countries in Europe during the 1930s, I think Americans could have been speaking Mr. Spock's Vulcanese, and still wanted to beat Hitler and the Nazis!

    "Advances in technology tend to overwhelm me."

    Comment


    • #3
      Despite the revolution & political independance the new US was still very tied to England economicly. The banks of London were much better able to finance the growing enterprises in North America than the older style less effcient banking houses in most other European nations. The British merchants of the late 1700s & early 1800 were also more adept at taking advantage of the international trade the North America & the US grew from. Immigration from England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland actually grew faster after Independance than before & faster than immigration from elsewhere for a couple decades.

      Simple offcial language would not have directly interfered with the economic & immagration factors. To eliminate both those factors directly suggests slower growth for the US in the early 1800s implying slower removal of the native population & perhaps a different sort of war with Mexico, or no war at all.

      While there was growth in immigration of German speaking peoples in the 1800s it did nt dominate the other immigrants from Spain, Italy, the Balkans, or Eastern Europe the way the English speaking immigrants did in the 1800s. That suggests the possibliity of much more distinctive & larger enthic regions than existed at the close of the 19th Century.

      I'm also skeptical that German language & German immigrants would mean closer ties to Imperial Germany. Just about all my direct ancestors left because of political conviction & a desire to break with the life they had know in the old country. My Great Grandfather had little problem with his sons & nephews returning to Europe in 1918 to kill the Kaisers soldiers. He left Swabia in 1871 a step ahead of the police for protesting the Imperial union & evading conscription for the Franco Prussian war. The bulk of the cousins & other Germans he settled amoung here had little empathy or nostalgia for autocratic & imperial Germany.

      I also have to note that my mothers Irish ancestors often fled their homeland out of English oppression. According to her more than a few of her parents generation were opposed to participation in WWI because it aided the English they had been taught to despise.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Slug View Post
        I believe you are correct.


        Hmm.
        Interesting question.
        You know, I'll go out on a limb and say no that it would not have changed history.
        In spite of the language spoken in America, I think people over the decades would have come up with the same political views as history unfolded.


        I think the wars would have happened as they did.
        Pearl Harbor brought America into WWII.
        Interestingly, if we were speaking German, would we have been as willing to supply the British with supplies as a neutral nation, while Britain was at war with Germany?
        Knowing Franklin Roosevelt, and how he felt about Adolf Hitler and what the Fuhrer was doing conquering countries in Europe during the 1930s, I think Americans could have been speaking Mr. Spock's Vulcanese, and still wanted to beat Hitler and the Nazis!

        Something more to add into the pot, for both you and Carl. Which country does most Americans claim to be from? As in English-American, Italian-American etc.

        According to the last census it is German. Something like 55 million. Considering that so many Germans immigrated to the US when it was English speaking, how many more would have immigrated had it been German speaking.

        Don't make the big jump all the way to Hitler yet. Do remember the 1800's we didn't have that friendly of relations with England. 1812/ Trent Affair come to mind, plus border disputes with Canada(England). couldn't a closer working relationship with Germany have put another picture on the balance of power in Europe?

        Would there have been a victorious UK and France if we had backed Germany. If not then no WWII. At least not the one that we have come to know. Just and if, but one that I've found interesting.

        HP
        Last edited by Half Pint John; 11 Mar 07, 11:17.
        "Ask not what your country can do for you"

        Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

        you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

        Comment


        • #5
          Interesting

          What if the prospect of going to a new country where you could speak your language would have appealed to the Germans, and made them more likely to come to America. Then the entire spectrum might have been changed by the German influx.

          I think that it may have had repercussions we couldn't imagine.
          For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
          -Jerry Pournelle-
          Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

          Comment


          • #6
            "What if the prospect of going to a new country where you could speak your language would have appealed to the Germans, and made them more likely to come to America. Then the entire spectrum might have been changed by the German influx."

            Most German immigrants like my Great Grandfather did not see language as much of an issue. He moved to a area where his cousins already inhabited & German was commonly spoken amoungst them. His sons spoke German into the 20th Century along side English. In 1900 there were saloons in my home town here where one never heard English. This was not uncommon. My wife recalls Dutch being used in Church services until 1962 in her home neighborhood near Chicago.

            "According to the last census it is German. Something like 55 million."

            I am amoung that 55 million. I also from my mothers side have half my ancestors as Irish. While they disliked the English they, like my German immigrant ancestors, hated aristocracy and rule by privilege and perfered democracy & a eglatarian socioty. On both sides of my families there were more than enough volunteers to go fight to save the French in WWI. (I dont think many of my ancestors gave damm about Britian). My grandfathers generation in the family were 100% of German ancestory & frequenty were still fluent in German. Still they volunteered to go off & shoot their cousins in the Kaisers uniform.


            "Considering that so many Germans immigrated to the US when it was English speaking, how many more would have immigrated had it been German speaking. "

            Economics & population pressure drove immigration from Europe. In the first few decades after Independance the continuing population growth in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland drove people to leave faster than elsewhere in Europe. Much of Europe was a generation or two behind the British isles in population growth, and the economics did not push people to immigrate quite as much. Later in the 19th Century these factors changed & immigration from elsewhere in Europe begain to catch up with the British isles.

            "According to the last census it is German. Something like 55 million."

            Misleading. Most of us with German surnames also have other nationalities amoung our ancenstors. Mine are evenly split between Ireland & Swabia. Given my cutural prefrences I am actually a Irish decendant with the accident of a German surname.

            To consider immigration accuratlly you have to look at where the immigrants themselves came from and what drove them out.
            Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 11 Mar 07, 19:36.

            Comment


            • #7
              Wenn wir German statt Englisches sprechen würden, würden Sie "fragen, Was geschehen würde, ob die Deutschen Englisch" sprachen...
              I am a simple man. I am by no means smarter than the average man. I am average...yet genius.

              Comment


              • #8
                As an aside, not making any particular point: T Roosevelt spoke German, having learned it during his childhood residence in Germany (two years?). During his political campaigns he made good use of this salting his speeches with remarks in German and while working the crowds.

                Comment


                • #9
                  it's impossible to know what a decision done in the 18th century would do two centuries later...

                  but linguistics do have an influence on the way one thinks.... and so the USA way of thinking would be slightly different due to German language structure, much more strict than English.

                  but you would also have "american german"....

                  and German would be today the world's business language.
                  "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                    it's impossible to know what a decision done in the 18th century would do two centuries later...

                    but linguistics do have an influence on the way one thinks.... and so the USA way of thinking would be slightly different due to German language structure, much more strict than English.

                    but you would also have "american german"....

                    and German would be today the world's business language.
                    The IF's of this are endless. US/UK relations were not all that good between 1815-1914, and that is with the US being "English".

                    HP
                    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                      "What if the prospect of going to a new country where you could speak your language would have appealed to the Germans, and made them more likely to come to America. Then the entire spectrum might have been changed by the German influx."

                      Most German immigrants like my Great Grandfather did not see language as much of an issue. He moved to a area where his cousins already inhabited & German was commonly spoken amoungst them. His sons spoke German into the 20th Century along side English. In 1900 there were saloons in my home town here where one never heard English. This was not uncommon. My wife recalls Dutch being used in Church services until 1962 in her home neighborhood near Chicago.

                      "According to the last census it is German. Something like 55 million."

                      I am amoung that 55 million. I also from my mothers side have half my ancestors as Irish. While they disliked the English they, like my German immigrant ancestors, hated aristocracy and rule by privilege and perfered democracy & a eglatarian socioty. On both sides of my families there were more than enough volunteers to go fight to save the French in WWI. (I dont think many of my ancestors gave damm about Britian). My grandfathers generation in the family were 100% of German ancestory & frequenty were still fluent in German. Still they volunteered to go off & shoot their cousins in the Kaisers uniform.


                      "Considering that so many Germans immigrated to the US when it was English speaking, how many more would have immigrated had it been German speaking. "

                      Economics & population pressure drove immigration from Europe. In the first few decades after Independance the continuing population growth in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland drove people to leave faster than elsewhere in Europe. Much of Europe was a generation or two behind the British isles in population growth, and the economics did not push people to immigrate quite as much. Later in the 19th Century these factors changed & immigration from elsewhere in Europe begain to catch up with the British isles.

                      "According to the last census it is German. Something like 55 million."

                      Misleading. Most of us with German surnames also have other nationalities amoung our ancenstors. Mine are evenly split between Ireland & Swabia. Given my cutural prefrences I am actually a Irish decendant with the accident of a German surname.

                      To consider immigration accuratlly you have to look at where the immigrants themselves came from and what drove them out.
                      German does come out ahead but only because the report breaks Great Britain into its three consistuent parts(well 4, but the Irish are the Irish , if you put them back together they are still ahed of German.
                      Boston Strong!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        German does come out ahead but only because the report breaks Great Britain into its three consistuent parts(well 4, but the Irish are the Irish , if you put them back together they are still ahed of German
                        Because it is an ethnic break down. Or do you want to TRY to tell a Scotsman or the Welsh that they are English. I can't speak for the Scots, but we aren't English, except on my fathers side. Welsh, Irish and Scots native language isn't English. All the Germans / Austrians and a large part of Switzerland speak German. Those two countries weren't tabulated under German. IF German had been the chosen language, then the difference would have been even greater, don't you think.

                        HP
                        "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                        Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                        you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Half Pint View Post
                          Because it is an ethnic break down. Or do you want to TRY to tell a Scotsman or the Welsh that they are English. I can't speak for the Scots, but we aren't English, except on my fathers side. Welsh, Irish and Scots native language isn't English. All the Germans / Austrians and a large part of Switzerland speak German. Those two countries weren't tabulated under German. IF German had been the chosen language, then the difference would have been even greater, don't you think.

                          HP
                          While the distinction is valid for natives of Britain today, those of us old liners all of whose relative immigrated before the revolution can only describe ourselves as British. Given the mix in the colonies most of us have a good mix of English, Scottish and Welch ranging from Englishmen in Jamestown and Plymouth, Welchmen coming over in the mid to late 1600's and Scotts transported after the Rising of 45.

                          i would be curious when this vote took place and what other legislation it was tied to since it would not have even been a question before the late 1800s' I also suspect if you looked into it you might find the vote "for German" was really a political reaction of all the non-British against the nativism implied in the bill.
                          Boston Strong!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JSMoss View Post
                            While the distinction is valid for natives of Britain today, those of us old liners all of whose relative immigrated before the revolution can only describe ourselves as British. Given the mix in the colonies most of us have a good mix of English, Scottish and Welch ranging from Englishmen in Jamestown and Plymouth, Welchmen coming over in the mid to late 1600's and Scotts transported after the Rising of 45.

                            i would be curious when this vote took place and what other legislation it was tied to since it would not have even been a question before the late 1800s' I also suspect if you looked into it you might find the vote "for German" was really a political reaction of all the non-British against the nativism implied in the bill.

                            Read the start of the thread and you'll see that it is posted as a question. This is also the Alternate Time Line Thread, which seems to offer a lot of room for the What IF

                            Some Welsh didn't come over until the early 1800's

                            HP
                            "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                            Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                            you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              English vs German

                              There needs tio be a point of clarification here. English was not made the Official language at the time that Congress considered adopting German. English (American English) was the defacto language at that time. The proposal to adopt German as the national language was the first effort to alter what had been the accepted status quo. Obviously it was based on the substantial increase in German speaking immigrants and their natural desire to make their language pre-dominate. The proposal failed in Congress and was laid to rest along with many other efforts to make one or another of our constituent parts superior. English was the traditional language of the nation and remains so to this date. Thanks

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