By Jan - 27/02/2013 04:50 - United States - Ann Arbor
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Affenland was not used for Africa as a whole but for the colony Germany held in West Africa (now Namibia) from 1884 to 1915. It's quite an old word actually. The only reason why it survived in OP's family is because of emigration, for sure. People back then, especially the colons themselves, called the place Affenland instead of the long official name "Südwestafrika" (just like there is Alpenland, Frankenland etc.). Nobody uses that word in Germany anymore, not even the racists.
Google Translate is not yet supposed to correctly translate sentences. It also generally does not work well with single words, mainly because most of them have various meanings depending on context and yet Google only offers a single translation. What you should use Google Translate for is to get a rough grasp of what it is that you're reading if you don't know the language. For everything else you should use dictionaries, so that you can find the translation you are looking for.
Common knowledge for the world and common knowledge for the USA are two very different things. Where some importent history facts are not that importent for the USA as it happend so far away from them. Most europeans could not tell more about the american civil war other then it was north against the south and that it had to do with slaves amongst other things.
I had a whole class on European history we learned a lot in that class even saw a video with footage from Auschwitz. I'm Canadian though and a lot of people from where I live (including me) have German parents or grandparents or are a different European background they still embrace. We also fought in WW1 and WW2. It's sad that the US doesn't teach it's people more about other countries (from what I've heard) maybe if they did when they travel they'd be treated better.