Charles Wukasch 2017 Lecture in Leipzig, Germany

Jan Slack asked Charles Wukasch the following questions: 

Was your lecture at Leipzig last year well attended?  Were there questions from the audience?  If so, do you remember any of the questions you were asked?

I can’t recall if I made a head-count, but I imagine there were 25-30 people there, mainly students.  I encouraged questions, comments, discussion, etc. from the audience, but don’t remember more than one or two examples.   I do remember a student whose surname was Mitschke.  Her sister is the editor of Rozhlad .  

I remember pointing out a difference in Texas Wendish which was different from that of standard Wendish (i.e., “good” Wendish).  One of the young women at my talk who speaks Wendish fluently said that those “incorrect” forms exist in the Wendish one hears in the Bautzen area today.  Much of my lecture was on sociolinguistics, i.e., the attitudes people have toward a language.  I told the following joke (which is sadly true):  “If you speak three languages, you’re trilingual.  If you speak two languages, you’re bilingual.  If you speak just one language, you’re – an American.”  That got a laugh out of the audience.  (By the way, the Brits tell the same joke about themselves.)  

I may have mentioned how in the Texas Wendish community some families (e.g., Miertschins, Mitschkes) kept up Wendish for years – good for them!   Others (e.g., my great-uncle Paul Hannusch) had the attitude of “a good American speaks just English.”  One of his sons (the Rev. Hugo Hannusch) told me once that his dad said “you boys are in America.  I want you to learn just English.”  Ich finde das schade!  To je škoda! 

I mentioned the attitude that the Lutheran Sorbs (Wends) in Germany tend to have today.  The late Mrs. Mahling (who with her husband opened Wjelbik in Bautzen, plus the hotel) told me years ago “the Lutheran Sorbs feel you can worship God just as well in German as in Wendish.”  (Substitute English for German or Wendish and it describes the attitude we Texan Wends have.)

Well, I could ramble on, but this is the gist of my talk.  I joke that the best part was after my talk when a group of lovely Wendish female students (all of whom are “real” Wends and speak Wendish fluently – Weldon will meet two of them at the summer course in a few weeks) invited me to a restaurant for piwo, pommes frites, and further talk.  To quote Shakespeare, “be still, my beating heart!” 



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