Monday, April 02, 2007

On the German language ...

During my two week holiday from German classes I'll be thinking about Mailer's POV on this language that challenges, confounds and surprises me.

German came to us originally as the language of simple folk, good pagan brutes and husbandmen, tribal people, ready for the hunt and the field. So it is a language full of the growls of the stomach and the wind in the bowels of hearty existence, the bellows of the lungs, the hiss of the windpipe, the cries of command that one issues to domesticated animals, even the roar that stirs in the throat at the sight of blood. Given, however, the imposition laid on this folk through the centuries - that they be ready to enter the amenities of Western civilization before the opportunity passes away from them altogether - I do not find it surprising that many of the German bourgeoisie who had migrated into city life from muddy barnyards did their best to speak in voices as soft as the silk of a sleeve. Particularly, the ladies.
He adds: “To every sharp German fellow, however, particularly the Berliners, irony had to become the essential corrective.”

by Norman Mailer from "The Castle in the Forest"

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