Last year, she was here in Iowa, working to keep a language alive. This year, she’ll be across the river in Nebraska for the same reason. Julia Westlake, a filmmaker from Hamburg, Germany, came to Iowa last year to work on part of a documentary series on the "Platt Deutsch" or Low German language.
She has found pockets of this old language in such diverse places as Namibia, Paraguay, New York, and Kansas –besides Iowa– and her series has been shown on German television. Westlake, daughter of a British composer, calls Platt Deutsch a "fascinating language," which comes from the lower elevations of Germany and was spoken by many German farmers, both in home and church, who then emigrated to all parts of the world. Several societies in the Midwest gather to keep up the language tradition today.
When she visits Nebraska this summer, Westlake will work with one of those groups, as well as a Lutheran church.