Monday, 13 August 2007

Linguistic heritage

The Rosewood Scrub does not have many overt signs left of its German heritage. To the passing traveller, it may be possible to discern the area’s antecedents from street names. On the other hand, both Rosewood and Marburg have chosen fairly colonial English names for their streets. In Rosewood there are Albert and John, even a King George Lane. Marburg’s main cross streets are Queen, and Edmond. Other names are more prosaic: Railway, School, Hospital Roads. Or the mouthfuls of connecting roads: Marburg-Rosewood Road, Haigslea-Malabar Road, Rosewood-Thagoona Road and so on. Newer areas have names of local flora: Blue Gum, Boronia, Bottlebrush, Paperbark, Wattle…though I have not seen a Sturt’s Desert Pea Road yet.

It is when you get out into the area surrounding the townships that the German flavour comes through. These are the roads named after the original settlers, many of which have descendents living on them, or moved away in the last few decades. Here are the Neuendorfs, Steinhardts, Stuhmkes, Kickbuschs, Schumans, Kuss’, Berlins, Saverins, Krauses, Schubels, Verrenkamps…the list goes on.

One clear linguistic heritage though is the number of older women who turn around at a function when a child calls “Oma.” My children call my mother-in-law “Oma” because she migrated from Germany as an adult. They also have a Nonno, a Grandma and a Grandpa. Many local children who don’t speak any German, call their grandmothers who also don’t speak German, Oma. You rarely hear “Opa.” If you speak of your Oma, most people know to whom you are referring. It is as if there is one strand of linguistic DNA that has survived colonial permutations.

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