Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A person I would have liked to meet ...

There are days when you realize that history repeats ... that the way people do things repeat.

Some weeks ago Anneliese Hübner mentioned a book to me "Die Coburger Mundart" (The Dialect of Coburg) by Eduard Hermann. The history of that book is as unique as its author ... something I did not expect in a first place. I mean Eduard Hermann is well known as a linguist and what I expected from this book is just a study of the dialect of the region I come from, but then I found it by chance in a shop which sells antique books in Coburg and so I ordered it. It arrived this morning and up to now I had a short overview and I read some 40 pages of it.

There are quite some very particular parts in it. The writer of the book died in 1950 and his book was published with the help of a protestant priest in 1957. A good part of the author's life is in that book. Like me Eduard Hermann wanted to do something for his language, but was not able to speak and write it himself, so he did what his job was, he studied his own language. With one difference: while in his job he did great work, in this very particular one you read his feelings between the lines. I tried to translate a paragraph to Italian today, and I had to note that all the feelings drop away, because those fine differences you have in sentence construction are not possible in Italian, at least not the same way, not without completely re-writing the paragraph.

There is one sentence I will never forget: "Und darum darf die MA (Mundart) auch nicht aussterben: nicht die Schriftsprache ist der lebendige Quell der Sprache, sondern die dem Volke fest verbundene Mundart, der noch der kräftige Erdgeruch enströmt."

I am trying to translate: "And therefore the dialect may not dye for it is not the high language which is the living source of the language, but the dialect which is closely attached to the people and which still exhales the strong aroma of the earth."

I could go on and on with quotes and translations ... Eduard Hermann did a really great job and I would have very much liked to meet him, talk to him and learn from him. Well: now there's only the written word left ...
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