The Language of Thieves
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The Language of Thieves : My Family's Obsession with a Secret Code the Nazis Tried to Eliminate

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Description

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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 210mm | 666g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1324005912
  • 9781324005919

About Martin Puchner

Martin Puchner is Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, author of The Written World, and coauthor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature. He lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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