Are the USA an Anglo-Saxon country?

Anglo-Saxon universities?

The German university landscape is being reformed, but it is not becoming Anglo-Saxon.

By Ann Marie Rasmussen (German translation by Christophe Fricker)

During my morning reading of the Los Angeles Times I was puzzled. In one contribution, French President Sarkozy was quoted as saying: “Of course there was tension in the relationship with the United States, of course there was fighting. But even our Anglo-Saxon friends are now completely convinced that we need new rules for the financial markets. ”Anglo-Saxons? Native English speakers must find such a choice of words funny and almost surreal. But why? Doesn't the English word "Anglo-Saxon" mean the same thing that the Germans mean by "Anglo-Saxon"? To make it short: no.

President Sarkozy used Anglo-Saxon as it is mostly done in Europe: as a term for British and American. This meaning is evidently a twentieth century coinage. Goethe does not know it, nor does it appear in Grimm's dictionary. Duden and Wahrig explain historically: “Anglo-Saxons: representatives of the 5th / 6th West Germanic tribes of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who emigrated to England in the 17th century. " The Duden adds: "Person of English descent and mother tongue, especially English and Americans of English origin."

Anglo-Saxon university reform?

The definition, which is now in vogue, has become the focus of interest in higher education reform debates. As early as 1997, the then federal government used the term to refer to the British-American higher education system, which also spreads to Canada, New Zealand and Australia: “The degree of awareness and usability of the German diploma are limited, especially in non-European countries. The Anglo-Saxon graduation model (Bachelor, Master), on the other hand, is generally accepted on the 'world market'. In large parts of the foreign country, the term 'diploma' is also used as an undifferentiated qualification, even in the non-academic field. " (From a draft to amend the University Framework Act).

So my spokesman for German with the term Anglo-Saxon simply English-speaking countries around the world? Is it a euphemism with which the political minefield of the British-American pair of terms is being circumvented? Germans would hardly find President Sarkozy's remark offensive. You would probably find the following passages, selected from a large number of current examples, neither funny nor puzzling: “Soon we will only communicate in Anglo-Saxon” (why not just “in English”?); or "Think French, steer in Anglo-Saxon, seems to be Edward Mitterrand's motto" (how do you steer in Anglo-Saxon?).

What do you mean by the word "Anglo-Saxon" in English? Native English speakers will accept the first definition of Duden and Wahrig, even if such historical knowledge is hardly common knowledge.

Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Saxon universities?

The discrepancy on the linguistic level has another reason. For most Americans, Anglo-Saxon is a synonym (actually a metonymy) for WASP, a sociological and political neologism with negative connotations from the 1960s that stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. WASP are members of the upper middle class and the upper ten thousand who are descended from the earliest settlers and who, according to their self-image, control economic prosperity, social standing and political power in the USA by natural law. Only those who combine all three characteristics (ethnicity, cultural heritage and religion) belong to this group. Jews, Catholics, blacks, Americans of Mexican, Asian, Italian and Irish descent are just as few WASPs as the indigenous indigenous peoples - and neither are the Americans of German descent.

As a professor at an American university, the German expression “Anglo-Saxon university system” gives me the worst headache and stomach ache, even when I know what those who use it mean “actually”. Because anyone who calls the education system in which I work "Anglo-Saxon" has a (certainly involuntary) perspective that is grotesquely limited. He overlooks the fact that the snooty WASP identity is no longer the basis of American education. On the contrary: it displaces the greatest achievements of this system, namely the creation of universities by and for blacks, who had to overcome major political, economic and cultural obstacles in the long decades of segregation; the establishment of universities in the West that have been co-educational from the start since they were created in the 19th century; the establishment of private, religious institutions of all faiths; and the fact that the new immigrant groups, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious character of the USA, could find a place in the university landscape. Whatever you can say about American higher education, it is certainly not white, not Protestant, and not Anglo-Saxon. Its flexibility and diversity demands recognition and encourages imitation. When German journalists mean American and British, they should just say it.

Because Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Saxon are what language teachers call false friends, "two words from two different languages ​​that are the same or very similar in spelling and / or sound, but have different meanings" (Pascoe, language traps in English).

Obama's false friends

The officials who wrote the draft of a new HRG quoted above were well aware that a German “diploma” is not the same as an English “diploma”. While German is a college degree, English is simply a certificate issued by an education, training or educational institution to show that someone has taken a course. In the United States, children sometimes receive a diploma when they leave kindergarten.

There is an abundance of specialist literature and introductions for laypeople in this field. Because from the preceding it is clear to what extent President Sarkozy really committed a faux pas by speaking of his Anglo-Saxon friends. Because he spoke in particular of his Anglo-Saxon friend President Barack Hussein Obama. For an American it is simply inconceivable how the country's first black president, who still describes himself as “a mutt”, whose choice overcame barriers between races and cultures and the American ideal of equality and justice has realized anew and radically for everyone, can be described as an Anglo-Saxon. It's tasteless, laughable, and therefore possibly. The editorial staff of LA Times know that for sure. Maybe they printed the quote to wipe out the ambitious President Sarkozy. Anyway, anyone who speaks of President Obama can call him an American.