Friday, September 08, 2006

Clash of Civilizations or "You're such a Zugereister"

I think the biggest reasons why things don't go as planned in world conflicts such as Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian, etc. is the simple fact that we don't understand each other culturally, and therefore we assume that the people we're dealing with generally think the same as us and desire the same things we do, and if they don't, it's because they just haven't realized yet that they should. (At this point many of you are saying "Duh!"). Yes it is obvious, but I guess common sense is not very common.

This morning I was thinking of how unique America is, being the only country where it essentially always harbored a plurality of different ethnic groups and religions. Yes I know it is not as motherhood and apple pie as I make it sound, but comparatively speaking, I think I have a leg to stand on in this assertion.

Anyway, this afternoon I came across the following word in Wikipedia which I've not heard before:

In countries where German is spoken (basically Germany, Switzerland and Austria), a Zugereister (literal translation from German: "someone who has travelled here [and stayed]") is someone who, for whatever reason (job, marriage, free will), has moved to a different region and settled there for good. They will have no or hardly any difficulty communicating with the locals but will forever be recognized by their accent and regarded by them as "not one of us". A man is ein Zugereister, a woman eine Zugereiste.

However, this phenomenon mainly applies to rural areas, whereas people who move to the large cities are usually not stigmatized according to where they come from.

People whose first language is not German are not referred to as Zugereiste (even if the concept of travelling from A to B and settling down at B is the same).

The word exists in many regional variants, with different spellings and pronunciations. Indeed the term itself is not used very often.


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