Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind

By Andrea Hammel; Silke Hassler et al. | Go to book overview

9
Code-switching in Exile Literature:
Jakov Lind’s Cosmopolitan Style

EVA EPPLER

WHILST planning the fieldwork for my research on language interaction among German/English bilinguals, I heard a documentary about Jakov Lind on Austrian radio. I had already started writing to Austrian, particularly Austrian-Jewish, refugees who had settled in London to ask them for interviews. Since Lind clearly fell into this category, I called ORF, the Austrian Radio and Television Service, and had no difficulty in obtaining his address. In reply to my letter of enquiry, Jakov Lind wrote the following letter, dated 15 December 1992. His characteristically witty reply provides an illuminating written example of language interaction, which deserves to be quoted in full and analysed from a linguistic perspective (see p. 159).


Denglish or Anglo Deutsch

Jakov Lind starts in English, addressing me with ‘Dear …’, a term suitable in a wider variety of contexts than the German ‘Liebe …’. The highly standardized opening of the letter is again in English and contains the only form of the English second person singular pronoun, thus avoiding the problem for writers of German of having to choose between the formal ‘Sie’ and informal ‘Du’. After the first main clause Lind switches to his mother tongue for the first time. He does so before the co-ordinating conjunction ‘und’ (and), an unproblematic switch-point, as one does not risk an ungrammatical utterance in either language when changing code between two main clauses. The rest of this sentence pretends to be entirely in German, apart from the English loanword ‘interview’

-158-

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