Ich bin ein New Yorker

Anna Steegmann teaches writing in New York. She has an article in the New York Times about being an illegal German immigrant in New York, scarcely able to speak English.

It was a Saturday afternoon, a time when German cities turn into graveyards. But in the park, blasting radios battled one another for dominance, elderly men played speed chess with youthful contenders, and dope peddlers, fire eaters and aspiring folk singers competed for the public’s attention. Children on the swings shrieked with delight, while hyperactive small dogs engaged in rough-and-tumble play.
I was 25, love-struck and delusional, and I decided to stay. Ignoring all the illegal immigrant’s red flags (no health insurance, no green card, no work, no savings), I cashed in my return ticket.

Those Saturday afternoons are not as bad as they used to be. They are a bit like that, but the feeling of deep depression and everything dead has gone. Some shops here stay open till 8 p.m. It’s not New York, though.

(Via The Lexicographer’s Rules)

11 thoughts on “Ich bin ein New Yorker

  1. Europe has more than its share of microstates and tiny remote dependencies. When deciding whether territory X is “part of” another country, we in the world beyond tend to ignore the mediaeval history in favour of observable present-day criteria. For example, is X a member of the United Nations, or could it be? Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino are UN members, and Holy See/Vatican City could trade its observer status for membership if it chose. Therefore, however much these territories exist at the sufferance of the country or countries that surround them, we grant that they are not part of them.
    If, on the other hand, territory X could not be a UN member because a sovereign claims it as a dependency, it must be part of another country. Thus,

  2. Well, that was rather my point: the term ‘Great Britain’, a geographical term, would be better.

    Of course, I can’t tell whether my point of view would satisfy you – I rather suspect not, on previous experience.

    ‘preferably one with a convenient related adjectival form’ – Like ‘Unitedstatesarian’?

  3. Yes, quite, ‘US’ and ‘American’ is exactly analogous to ‘UK’ and ‘British’. But we’re happy to arrogate to ourselves a name formerly applied to the entire hemisphere. Not only that, but we so often leave that one word out of our full name that our southern neighbour, los Estado Unidos Mexicanos, has no hope of using its formal legal name in the wider world.
    We too have a collection of overseas dependencies with arcane variations in status. Ask Americans whether they think Puerto Rico is ‘part of’ the United States, and a majority might well say no.

  4. I agree with you, Margaret, that the Channel Islands are part neither of the UK nor of the EU within which it has ‘special status’.

    Also interesting is the linguistic, legal as well as political status of the nominally British/ Scottish Orkney and Shetlands (‘Zetland’)Islands.

    Rkillings doesn’t mention the suzerainty – not sovereignty – claims of China to the ‘Autonomous Chinese Region’ of Tibet which every panel of international lawyers has concluded are totally unfounded. With the Olympic Games in Beijing/ Peking and the FIT – International Translators’ Federation – Congress next year being held in Shanghai, we ought to ask whether the West has not sold out to China’s economic and military might since the 1950 invasion.

  5. The last I read about it was an article, in the Guardian I think, about a young British couple with two small kids who were learning Arabic and decided to go on holiday in Syria, coming back by plane. They went to Istanbul, where they had terrible trouble finding the train and were greeted like long-lost friends, the only passengers.
    The Internet doesn’t forget.

    • Thanks. Now I have looked at the blog, I see she was in Rosa von Praunheim’s film, which I remember greatly enjoying a few years ago, about three German women in New York.

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