Simone Busley (Mainz): Johann Jakob Müller becomes João Müller. Names and Identity of Ethnic Germans in Brazil

  • Datum: –17.00
  • Plats: Engelska parken 16-2041 Widmarkrummet
  • Föreläsare: Dr. Simone Busley, University of Mainz.
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för nordiska språk
  • Kontaktperson: Mirjam Schmuck
  • Seminarium

Dr. Simone Busley is researcher at the University of Mainz and will present data from her actual research. We will meet in person at Uppsala University, Simone will join us digitally.

Personal names are indicators of a person's national, often also regional affiliation: from a person's family name, often also from the first name, one can infer his or her origin (nation, region, even family). However, especially in emigration contexts, first names and family names are often adapted to the typical names in the country of immigration at the expense of genealogical information. Thus, the first names of persons emigrating to the U.S. were already americanized in the first generation (Wilhelm → WilliamKarl → Charles), the family names followed only a few generations later with graphic and phonetic assimilations (Schäfer → Shafe), often even with a “translation” (Fuchs → Fox) (see Macha 1998, Eichhoff 2001). 


Such assimilations indicate the sense of identity of ethnic groups. They also apply to ethnic Germans in Brazil. Since 1824, thousands of people emigrated from German regions (especially from what is now central West Germany) to southern Brazil. The number of ethnic Germans in Brazil today is estimated at 2 to 5 million. German is still the most spoken language after Portuguese. In contrast to the ethnic Germans in the U.S., those in Brazil held very strongly to their German names in the first decades after immigration. Only gradually were the first names adapted, while the German family names were preserved until today. That is why hybrid names consisting of a Romance first name and a German family name are typical today, e.g., Gisele BündchenFilinto MüllerGustavo Kuerten. There has been no research on this yet. For the present study, baptismal registers from Hamburgo Velho (district of Novo Hamburgo in Rio Grande do Sul) were examined, covering the period 1844 - 1952. These data show diachronic trends in terms of romanization of first names, naming after parents and godparents, and gender differences.



Eichhoff, Jürgen (2001): Die Anglisierung deutscher Familiennamen in den USA. In: Eichhoff, Jürgen et. al. (Hg.): Name und Gesellschaft. Soziale und historische Aspekte der Namengebung und Namenentwicklung. Band 2. Mannheim [u.a.], S. 244-269.

Macha, Jürgen (1998): Diskontinuität durch Auswanderung: der Umgang mit Eigennamen. In: Eva Schmitsdorf et. al. (Hg.): Lingua Germanica: Studien zur deutschen Philologie, Festschrift für Jochen Splett, 161-170.