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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2013

German in Samoa: Historical traces of a colonial variety

Doris Stolberg


During the brief era of German colonialism in the Pacific (1884-1914), German was in contact with a large number of languages, autochthonous as well as colonial ones. This setting led to language contact in which German influenced and was influenced by various languages. In 1900, Western Samoa came under German colonial rule. The German language held a certain prestige there which is mirrored by the numbers of voluntary Samoan learners of German. On the other hand, the preferred use of English, rather than German, by native speakers of German was frequently noted. This paper examines linguistic and metalinguistic data that suggest the historical existence of (the precursor of) a colonial variety of German as spoken in Samoa. This variety seems to have been marked mainly by lexical borrowing from English and Samoan and was, because of these borrowings, not fully comprehensible to Germans who had never encountered the variety or the colonial setting in Samoa. It is discussed whether this variety can be considered a separate variety of German on linguistic grounds.

Received: 2013-04-25
Revised: 2013-09-27
Accepted: 2013-09-28
Published Online: 2013
Published in Print: 2013

© Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2013

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