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Re: [casi] !IT! - "For whom the bell tolls"

> My grandfather's name was "Stemler". I was told
> it was from the German for "stammerer", a reference
> to how his ancestors were Huguenots driven out of
> France to Germany, where they were called stammers
> because of their broken speech.

That's interesting about your Huguenot ancestors. -
and with the name too. The word for "stammerer"
is 'Stammler'; so that would fit. But how did they
come to adopt as a family name what was in fact
a derision?

Curiously though everyone wanted to speak only
French at that time - from the nobility downwards.
German was considered too common. French was also
the language of scholarship, next to Latin. There
really was there was no standard German, save
Luther's version. There wasn't even a Germany,
as a state - not until 1871.

And it wasn't only the French language they borrowed.
It was also French fashion, habits, manners, and
so on. That's why I am puzzled why your Huguenot
ancestors had a hard time. But perhaps they were
up in the north, Prussia, where French might have
been less popular.

> Some four centuries later and thousands of miles
> distant, my family still bears the marks of that
> persecution.

You mean it's still in the collective family memory?
Or did they have hard time in America as well?

I always thought that the Huguenots were well
received everywhere, mainly because they were well
to do - middle and upper class - and fitted in well.
But of course it's very hard leaving your country
under such circumstances. And there is no real
feeling of belonging in the new country - not for
the first generation anyway. Many people need that
feeling of belonging. Adapting yourself to a new
culture is difficult too, especially if you long
for your own - as the Huguenots must have done.


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