Is French broken in Haitian Creole

Unserdeutsch: a dying Creole language at the other end of the world

Augsburg - When two or more languages ​​merge into one through sustained and intensive contact between different cultures, the result is a so-called Creole language. The best-known example of this is the Haitian language, in which French mixed with various West African languages ​​as well as the languages ​​of indigenous Caribbean people.

Far less known is that from our point of view at the other end of the world there is also a Creole language based on German - at the same time it is the only one in the world: "Unserdeutsch", which is spoken in Papua New Guinea and the northeast of Australia (You can find audio documents here). This language is a legacy of the short-lived colony of German New Guinea, which the German Empire established in Oceania at the end of the 19th century and to which archipelagos such as the Marshall Islands, the Carolines, Nauru and Palau belonged.

Speed ​​is of the essence

As reported by the University of Augsburg, an international research project on the comprehensive and systematic documentation of Unserdeutsch (also called "Rabaul Creole German") has been started at the Chair of German Linguistics. As part of the project, in cooperation with the Institute for German Language in Mannheim, a digital Unserdeutsch corpus is to be created that comprehensively documents the language in order to make this knowledge usable for research and teaching purposes.

Another task of the project consists in the reconstruction and description of the origin and history of the Creole language in the context of a dissertation project on the basis of oral history, archive sources and linguistic structural analysis.

And time is pressing for the 36-month project. Because Unserdeutsch is on the verge of extinction - today it is only spoken by around 100 elderly people in Papua New Guinea and Australia. (red, October 30, 2015)