652 PROBLEMS OF LINGUISTICS 296 2 1st August 1942, evening Necessity and the taking of decisions—Patois and High German—German replaces Latin as official language— Our shorthand-typists. If one enters a military operation with the mental reservation : "Caution! this may fail," then you may be quite certain that it will fail. To force a decision one must enter a battle with a conviction of victory and the determination to achieve it, regardless of the hazards. Just imagine what would have happened if we had undertaken the Crete operations with the idea: "We'll have a crack at it; if it succeeds, so much the better; if it fails, we must pull out!" A compatriot of mine, Stelzhammer, has written some wonderful poetry, but unfortunately in dialect; otherwise he would have become the literary counterpart of Bruckner. If his contemporary, Adalbert Stifter, had written in dialect, he, too, would not have had more than ten thousand readers. What a great loss this represents ! In the same way I always think it is a great pity when a really first-class comedian is dependent solely on dialect for his humour; he does so limit his audience thereby. Valentin, for example, can only be really appreciated in Upper Bavaria; even in the rest of Bavaria itself, half his wit goes begging, and in Berlin, if he appeared there, he would be a complete failure. If only he had trained himself to play in High German as well, he would have been famous everywhere, long before the arrival of the great American comedians. There is a more serious aspect to all this., A foreigner spends two or three years learning German, and then he comes to Munich. The first thing that greets him is a torrent of unintelligible dialect; for the moment the good burgher of Munich realises that he is dealing with a foreigner, he avoids High German like the plague. "This fellow," he says to himself, "may be a Prussian—I'll give him what for!" And he persists with the purest dialect he can produce until his wretched victim is completely perplexed and driven from the field. I do my utmost to bring good German to the ears of Danes, Swedes and Finns, and the radio blares forth dialect! I do away with the Gothic
SHORTHAND-TYPISTS AND SECRETARIES 653 script, because I regard it as an obstacle, and people go on spouting dialect ! It doesn't make sense. I remember that one of my companions at the front came from the Allgaeu; for the first few days, he might just as well have been a Chinaman. All this may be great fun. Fritzi Reuter is a great writer, but only a small minority can read him. Where should we be if Hoffmann von Fâllersleben had written the national anthem in dialect? Everyone should have a deep affection for his place of origin, but that alone does not suffice ; his allegiance should stretch beyond the confines of the parish. Are you not ashamed when you hear a well-educated Czech speak better German than many a German? To set up an Imperial government it was necessary to do violence to a large number of dialects and to introduce an official German language. Before this was done, the official language was Latin; and it probably still would be, but for this drastic measure. There is a world of difference between chanting a Mass in Latin and receiving an income-tax demand in the same language. The old saying: "We'll soon make you speak proper German", dates from those heroic days. It was the time when the Habsburgs behaved as though they were the Emperors of Germany. For hours on end I tried to make Krosigk understand that a shorthand-typist in Lammers' office was not an ordinary stenographer, but a secretary. Krosigk at first stubbornly refused to put these girls on the civil service list, in spite of the fact that the most secret documents passed continually through their hands. Clerks in the Wehrmacht are in the same boat—and they are the worst-paid employees we have. In my opinion, in the grading of appointments, the importance of the duties assigned should be the determining factor. The best secretary in the world is hardly good enough for the tremendous task put upon her; she must be as swift as lightning and as silent as the grave— and all she gets is eighty or a hundred marks a month ! It always infuriates me to think of a court writer, sitting there scribbling slowly, with a greasy bit of paper, in which her cheese was wrapped, beside her. The only time she ever bestirs herself is when she corrects a mistake or crosses something out. When I dictate to Fräulein Gerbeck, I know she does not
Vaishali Shah has visited many places to promote our Indian cultures. On the holy Makar Sankranti day this year the traveler Vaishali Shah was fortunate to be at the haveli of Mahaprabhuji. The journey to Champaranya was so refreshing and beautiful.