Hans Arnhold Center Library

The language of thieves my family's obsession with a secret code the Nazis tried to eliminate

Puchner, Martin 1969-

The language of thieves my family's obsession with a secret code the Nazis tried to eliminate Martin Puchner - First edition - 278 pages illustrations

Includes bibliographical references and index

Introduction: Language Games -- Camouflage Names -- The Book of Vagrants -- A Picture Comes into View -- The Rotwelsch Inheritance -- The King of the Tramps -- The Farmer and the Judge -- An Attic in Prague -- When Jesus Spoke Rotwelsch -- Igpay Atinlay for Adults -- The Story of an Archivist -- Judgment at Hikels-Mokum -- Error-Spangled Banner -- Your Grandfather Would Have Been Proud of You -- Rotwelsch in America -- The Laughter of a Yenish Chief. "Tracking an underground language from one family's obsession to the outcasts who spoke it in order to survive. Centuries ago in middle Europe, a coded language appeared, scrawled in graffiti and spoken only by people who were "wiz" (in the know)-vagrants and refugees, merchants and thieves. This hybrid language was rich in expressions for police, jail, or experiencing trouble, such as "being in a pickle." And beginning with Martin Luther, German Protestants who disliked its speakers wanted to stamp it out. The Nazis hated it most of all. As a boy, Martin Puchner learned this secret language through his father and uncle. Only as an adult did he discover, through a poisonous 1930s tract on Jewish names, that his own grandfather, an historian and archivist, had been a committed Nazi who hated everything his sons and grandsons loved about "the language of thieves." Interweaving family memoir with scholarship and an adventurous foray into the politics of language, Puchner crafts an entirely original journey narrative. In a language born of migration and hybridity, he discovers a witty and resourceful spirit of tolerance that remains essential today"--

9781324005919 hardcover


Puchner, Martin 1969-
Puchner, Martin 1969- --Family

Language policy--History--Germany--20th century
German language--Slang
College teachers--United States--Biography

Germany--Languages--Political aspects

Class of Spring 2019 John W. Kluge Distinguished Visitor John P. Birkelund Fellow in the Humanities Fellow Written at the Academy


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Background picture: by Annie Spratt  on Unsplash

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