Fisch out of Water: Celebrating Accented Languages

If you’re feeling a bit out of your element, you’re in the right place.  The event “Fisch Out of Water” celebrates the aesthetic uniqueness that your native tongue brings to the foreign languages you speak—quirks, trips of the tongue, and all. Germans reciting in Spanish, US Americans singing in Russian, Turks reading in French, all conspiring to enjoy and embrace the aesthetic experience of blended languages.

This concept, being a "fisch out of water," has been traveling with Professor David Gramling of the German Studies Department at the University of Arizona—from Berlin, Germany to Ankara, Turkey and now to Tucson. While working in Berlin, itself a hub of translation and translingual exchange, one of Professor Gramling's colleagues came to the realization that translators and other “language workers,” who often tend to work all day long with written texts in silence, seldom had the opportunity to get together with their peers—to revel aloud in the aesthetics of their own non-native, accented voices. Based in this realization, they formed a space for people of all backgrounds to gather and share their languages—in the broadest sense of the word. Soon, language lovers ranging from 18-70 years old gathered in the back of cafes and other local spots to create a warm and spontaneous atmosphere, sharing anything under the sky in their non-native language(s): epic poems, parables, cabaret tunes, original translations, short stories, spoken-word pieces….

Since 2011, the Fisch out of Water events hosted by the Deutscher Studenten Club here at the UofA have met with enthusiastic response, and Fisch is quickly taking on the local textures of the Old Pueblo. Each event draws more and more curious combinations of linguistic practice—including dance, music, signing/ASL, visual art, and beyond. The DSC is dedicated to exploring this new frontier of language use with the broader campus and local community, drawing on all of the various languages that are spoken here. Our vision is simple: that, by the 40th Fisch Out of Water event, there will be enough participants to hold the event in Centennial Hall!

See photos of our Fisch events here.

If you are interested in participating in future events please contact Joseph Gouge (njgouge@email.arizona.edu) or Prof. David Gramling (dgl@email.arizona.edu).