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Reading: Names on Alsatian Gravestones as Mirrors of Politics and Identities

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Names on Alsatian Gravestones as Mirrors of Politics and Identities

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Katharina Vajta

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Abstract

This study focuses on personal names on gravestones in Alsace, a region in the east of France that has shifted several times between France and Germany, especially between 1871 and 1945. These shifts are observable in the cemeteries, not least regarding the personal names inscribed in the epitaphs, which usually exhibit either a French or a German variant of the first name, whereas family names traditionally are of German origin. The choice of a first name was expected to follow the language of the ruler, but this was not always the case and we can observe numerous transgressive choices of first names. Indeed, the simultaneous occurrence of German and French first names shows how naming was subject to different traditions and ideologies. Today, German first names have become rare, which mirrors the region’s ongoing, larger language shift to French. More recently, the frequency of at once non-German and non-French names echoes an increasing mobility in Alsatian society.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.624
How to Cite: Vajta, K., 2020. Names on Alsatian Gravestones as Mirrors of Politics and Identities. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.288–310. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.624
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Published on 19 Dec 2020.
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