I notice more and more often how few people still speak German in public places all over Munich. Going places by subway or underground trains and eagerly trying to listen to what the people sitting next to me are saying, I mostly understand nothing. People talk in a language that is totally alien to me! More often than not, I cannot even determine what language is actually spoken.
In trains, I find myself in a similar situation. For instance, I enjoy listening to what gentlemen dressed in elegant business suits say on their mobile phones when on my way to Nuremberg. And I am delighted when I can listen in on interesting business dialogue halves in English, French or German. But this is a pleasure I am granted less and less often, because the language in use is more and more often one I do not know.
Also, I enjoy strolling along the smart-set areas of our cosmopolitan village Munich. Once in a while, I even buy some clothes at “Loden-Frey”. And it is always the same: all around me I see people of all nationalities. In the elegant areas, particularly many of the ladies and gentlemen wear white towels on their heads – and often they carry shopping bags packed to almost bursting.
And whenever I ride my bike in Unterhaching, where, shortly before the InterFace building near the “Hachinger Bach”, I turn left towards the kindergarten, matters look similar: mothers gossip, but they speak languages I do not understand, or sometimes their German has a rather strong accent.
Mind you, I am the last person who would find fault with this. For example, I truly believe it would be much better if there were only one official language all over the European Union, instead of all documents having to be translated into the languages of all members. Especially when we are talking about laws, this is nonsense. I could well imagine English becoming the official EU language, even though German is probably the language mostly spoken. Yet, English would make more sense for various reasons.
Incidentally, it is not at all important for me that my neighbours speak German. Personally, I would like it best if they all spoke Bavarian. For me, the German language is a cultural heritage we should cultivate, no more. So let us be careful and prevent German from drowning in the Euro-slang. And maybe we should be a little more hesitant about orthographic reforms in the future.
However, we also should be honest with ourselves and accept reality. I saw one of the German soccer games of the last World Championship in South Africa on Austrian TV. The Austrian reporter hit the nail on the head when he spoke of the German national team as “a likeable multi-cultural troupe”.
Yes, that is what I wish we had: Germany as a “likeable multi-cultural nation”. We are already a multi-cultural nation and – looking at the demographic development (Entwicklung) – it is easy to see that we will continue to grow to be so even more in the future. Now all that is left for us to do is get a little more likeable, both for “multi-culture” and ourselves.
In the end, that would even reconcile me with the hideous combination of the colour combination black-red-gold. After all, such a gay display of colour is quite suitable for a multi-cultural nation. Although I, personally, prefer the Bavarian white-blue.
(Translated by EG)
I copied the moving flags from the website www.nationalflaggen.de – many thanks!