Lagerszpracha: The Common Language of Concentration Camps

For prisoners held at concentration camps during World War II, a new language called lagerszpracha arose from necessity. In many camps, there were prisoners of up to forty different nationalities, many of whom spoke different languages. It became increasingly apparent that they would need to use a more familiar common language (also known as a lingua franca to us word nerds).

This language became lagerszpracha, also refereed to as lagerjargon or, rather morbidly, crematorium Esperanto. The official language of the camps was still German, but prisoners used lagerszpracha to communicate among themselves, particularly because using their native language was forbidden.

There were different varieties of lagerszpracha, which was created primarily out of Polish, Yiddish, Hungarian and Silesian dialects, as well as other languages spoken in the given camp. These differences were observed not only between camps but also between the language used in men’s and women’s camps.

Below is a book I am currently reading, which briefly mentioned lagerzspracha and made me curious to investigate more:

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Source:

Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps

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Bread & Butter

When I was kid, my mom and I would often walk on either side of a pole and then say “bread and butter” when we came back together on the other side. Today, while we were driving, she brought it up, asking “I wonder where that comes from?” Immediately, I decided to find out.

Turns out this “bread and butter” tradition dates back to at least the 1920s, if not earlier. It is a superstition that if a couple (either romantic or friends) is broken apart during their walk by either another person or another object, they must say “bread and butter” when they meet up again, or they are doomed to have a conflict later on. The thought is that bread and butter go together, and that bread, once buttered, cannot be “unbuttered.”

Although my family has only ever used “bread and butter” in this way, people have also used “salt and pepper” in this superstition.

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Source: Signs and Superstitions Collected from American College Girls, published by American Folklore Society in 1923

Read for it for free online: http://wwwjstor.org/stable/535105

Y’all Should be Watching

Any administration that goes after

Fill-in-the-blank recipes

Has the tendency to cook up leaks.

They suggest the President’s D-Day

Anniversary will commence with

An extravagant baptism.

After a ten-pound week,

Trump will listen to our minds and find

It feels good to ruin beach day plans.

He will swap to closet retirement

Only too soon, leaving reliable resources

Behind, like sweatpants and sleep,

Obsessing over a bodysuit and light duty.

I bullshit you not, these interviews

Require planning.

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Find Me Here

A Facebook Poem

I.

We don’t always end up with the loves of our lives

Because men keep demanding sex from their partners.

Just describe bedtime at your house.

Women start to cat-call back – Hey you! Tap this!

And then wake up in a trunk, dead as Alice

Waiting for her burial in the Casket Lottery.

 

II.

A transgender man shared incredible before and after progress photos,

But men are more than muscles, athleticism, and the clothes they wear.

Transmen and transwomen, queer persons both binary and non-binary

Come clear that they’re transitiong and cis people confuse them with trannies.

Ask your husband if he’d still love you if you got a sex change?

Women are more than tits, cosmetics, and fertility.

 

III.

Let me introduce you to my new, fuzzy daughter, unshaved.

She sings songs about cabbage and tells me about

Nine things that are slowly going extinct (thanks to Millenials).

Bahaha. She makes this face…

Someone called her Japanese tea party racist and told lies

Like ten different urban legends rolled into one.

 

IV.

The best way to drink prosecco is on wheels.

I let stress eating get the best of me, but I don’t care

What anyone thinks. Today I is growned up.

Just had a lady ask if she could “salt” her coaster so it doesn’t stick.

Im so agitated… Im going shopping after work today…

If you need me later… find me here.

Meet Maven Moxie

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A bit about this site: If you’re here you probably love to play with words, or love to play with people who play with words (more on that later). This site features etymology (origin and history of words and phrases), poetry (written by yours truly and found here and there), as well as whatever word or language-related topics I find interesting at the time (and I hope you do, too). I’ve also included add-ons you might find useful – events, publishers, websites, etc.

A bit about me: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Parkside with a B.A. in English.  Since then I’ve taught as an adjunct lecturer, published some poetry, and gotten involved in the local Kenosha/Racine WI arts scene. Currently I write part descriptions for Great Lakes Skipper, and I am completing a Certificate of Professional Writing and Communications at UW-Milwaukee.