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Topfit Deutsch: 5. Training Franzosisch: Training Gymnasium - Franzosisch 2. Lernjahr PDF Online. Training Gymnasium - Franzosisch 1. Lernjahr PDF Download. Kurze Lateinische Language and regionalism in Germany and Austria Standard German and dialects as regional and social markers Variation Who speaks dialect? Decline or resurgence? Social variation and communication barriers Guest worker German, German foreigner talk and the problems. Recent Anglo-American influence Anglo-American influence in a general context Types of transference Lexical and semantic transfers Syntactic transfers 'Pseudo-transfers' and German usage Domains of English transference Germany Austria Switzerland Luxembourg Media of transmission Institutions People Reasons for transference Integration of transfers Variation in integration between national varieties Dictionaries and integration Social aspects of integration Transference and communication barriers Brief summary Further reading.
I also wish to express my thanks to my research assistants, Theresa Wallner, who helped with data collection and analysis, and Melissa Rogerson, who assisted with the bibliography and the presentation of the manuscript, to Sue Fernandez for compiling the index, and to the Australian Research Council for a grant for the project The German Language in a Changing Europe.
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I am also indebted to Stephen Barbour, who read the manuscript and suggested numerous improvements, to those who read and commented on some sections - Leslie Bodi Chapters , Heinz Kreutz Chapter 3 , Rudolf Muhr the Austrian part of Chapter 2 , Anne Pauwels the gender part of Chapter 6 , Horst-Dieter Schlosser Chapter 3 , Gerald Newton the Luxembourg part of Chapter 2 , Richard Watts the Swiss part of Chapter 2 and an anonymous referee, and to those who made helpful comments on Language and society in the German-speaking countries, especially.
The responsibility for the remaining shortcomings, of course, rests with me. I record my thanks to Langenscheidt for permission to reproduce Map 2 from the Kleine Enzyklopddie deutsche Sprache, to the Monash University Department of Geography for redrawing the maps, to the Institut fur deutsche Sprache, Mannheim, for putting its library and other facilities at my disposal a number of times, and to colleagues at Cambridge University Press for their kind co-operation. This book is intended as an introduction to the sociolinguistic situation in those countries in which German has the status of a national language, with some consideration of those in which it has regional official status.
Because a language is an index of the cultures and societies of its users, the monograph may be of value to German Studies and European Studies programmes as well as to students of sociolinguistics and to teachers and students of German. It supersedes Language and society in the Germanspeaking countries Momentous sociopolitical changes have taken place since the appearance of that monograph. I am referring not only to the end of the cold war and the unification of Germany, but also to changes in the self-images of Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg expressed in language use and language planning, the 'redrawing of the map of Europe', influencing the use and status of German as an international language, and internal sociopolitical changes within the various countries, e.
The publication, in , of Stephen Barbour's and Patrick Stevenson's Variation in German has given us a comprehensive and complementary text which is a critical and contrastive account, devoted specifically to variation, written from the context of Anglo-American sociolinguistic research. This abrogates the necessity to add such a perspective which was absent from my publication Barbour The present monograph, like its predecessor, offers an interpretative synthesis of local studies of the relation between language and society in the German-language countries, complemented by some of my data, to present a coherent picture.
The findings of much recent research have been incorporated into this book. The references in brackets according to social science conventions are meant to direct the reader to the source of the information. Translations are given for the benefit of those with limited German, and a glossary of some linguistic terminology employed is intended for Germanists and other readers with little training in linguistics. Some of. The enormity of the subject matter renders it impossible to deal with every topic relating to each German-language country.
Some areas have been investigated much less than others and can be treated only cursorily in this book. The recent speed of change means that some findings are only indicative, being based on very sketchy or preliminary data, and in some cases anecdotal and impressionistic. They are included here to stimulate discussion and research. The study of the sociolinguistics of German is a rewarding one, for it offers the opportunity of comparing the same language in action in societies with different historical and cultural traditions. It also enables us to assess the effects on a language of political division and the attempts to eradicate these effects in a short period.
To prevent the scope of this book from extending to unmanageable dimensions, I shall exclude from consideration minority languages of ethnic or migrant groups in German-language countries. For these topics, the reader is referred to the relevant sections of Barbour and Stevenson Examples of massification are open economic borders between member countries of the European Union then European Community as from January and the enlargement of the Union to include Austria, Sweden, Norway, and Finland in , and the development of an expanded European Economic Region progressively to include former Soviet Bloc countries, all of which could have homogenizing effects on language and culture.
On the other hand, diversification is exemplified in the resurgence of regions in Western Europe and the re-emergence of smaller, largely language-based, nation-states in Central and Eastern Europe to replace the multinational empire of the USSR and the multinational political entities of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. The language-based nature of these nation-states brings to the fore longstanding ethnolinguistic tensions and disputes over minority rights which may result in new post-Communist nations of Central and Eastern Europe splitting up into more and more separate entities.
But alongside this diversification, we see the opening up of nations and groups which have been closed to half of Europe and much of the rest of the world for over forty years. This has brought the challenges of communicating with other peoples in a range of contexts. Another aspect of diversification is the legal strengthening of regional and ethnic minority languages through the passing of the Charter of Regional and Minority Languages by the Council of Europe member states in This affords ethnic minorities and regional groups but not migrant workers the right that their language be used in administration,.
In this chapter, we will discuss this in relation to the status and functions of German as a medium of inter-cultural communication see below, 1. This needs to be considered with regard to four questions: the present status of German; the competition with other languages, notably English, the language situation in the European Union, and the future of multilingualism in Europe. But first let us survey the countries in which German has national or regional official status.
German is the mother tongue of over 94 million people divided among a number of different countries. It has official or quasi-official status in five. In each of these it appears in a different form and has different functions. Each nation has its own variety of Standard German with which its people identify, as well as regional and local varieties, whose status and relation to Standard German will be discussed in later chapters.
The countries with German as an official or de facto official language are: Germany 81 million users of whom Although the former GDR was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany in October , the process of unification is not complete in practice, as we shall see in Chapter 3.
Austria 7. The old centre of Central Europe, Austria has maintained cultural links with the surrounding newly independent non-German-language nations, even during the time when most of them belonged to the Soviet Bloc and Austria pursued a policy of active political neutrality i. It has undergone a separate development from Protestant North Germany since the Reformation and from the Prussian-dominated'ethnically based' nation-state of Germany 'Kleindeutschlana" in the nineteenth century.
Since becoming an independent republic for the second time in , Austria has developed into a highly industrialized welfare state and has derived self-esteem and a new national awareness from its economic prosperity low unemployment and a relatively low inflation rate. In , Austria became a member of the European Union. Switzerland A nation with official national multilingualism German, French, Italian and, at the regional level, also Rhaeto-. The German-language countries Romansh , Switzerland has its languages distributed on a territorial principle, i.
According to Durmiiller , only 6. However, almost all Swiss acquire some competence in one of the other languages of Switzerland at school Durmuller The 4. In this case Standard German the 'High' language, hereafter H fulfils written and formal spoken functions, while the other, a dialect the 'Low' language, hereafter L , is used for informal ones. But as we shall see in Chapter 2, L is intruding into some previous domains of H. This is having negative effects on relations between the language groups. German speakers are over-represented in the bureaucracy Hauck and draft legislation is available only in German and French.
Public servants communicate by speaking their own language and understanding at least one other Hauck Switzerland has enjoyed longstanding economic prosperity and political neutrality. It practises grassroots democracy deriving from the survival of feudal and early capitalist structures into the modern age, something that often appears parochial. Luxembourg The population of , use Letzebuergesch, German and French in a functionally complementary relationship1 see 2. Through language planning, i. Luxembourg has maintained many traits of a nineteenth-century German duchy with a small bureaucracy and an inherent conservatism.
But it has, for centuries, enjoyed an intermediate position between the French and German spheres of influence and now has a strong attachment to the European Union. It acts as host to its parliament and court and to several of its agencies. In it was the richest country per capita in the European Union. Liechtenstein 15, users. Liechtenstein is a tiny principality of a predominantly rural character without an airport. It is sandwiched 1 There are, among them, about 62, foreign-born, some of whom have great difficulty adapting to the complex situation. Liechtenstein has had a customs union with Switzerland since but, unlike Switzerland, voted in favour of membership of the European Economic Region in December In addition, German now enjoys regional official status in some eastern parts of Belgium , German speakers and South Tyrol , German speakers, part of Italy , and an emerging special status in AlsaceLorraine 1.
In Namibia once German South West Africa , there are still some state schools employing German as a medium of instruction, but English is being developed as the only official language. The German language has undergone a marked decline in significance in Western Europe and the world. Part of this is due to the unparalleled popularity of English - seen variously as the language of the liberators from Fascism and of resistance to Communism, the language of technological and economic progress, and the language of protest, ecological renewal and youth solidarity.
Conversely, part of the decline of German can be attributed to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, which were linked with the language not only subjectively in the eyes and ears of the oppressed, but objectively through the use of German by the occupation forces in the execution of oppression and genocide.
The situation in Eastern and Central Europe was somewhat different in so far as there had been a more recent occupying power or dominating force using another language, Russian, as an instrument of oppression and dominance. In this region, the antithesis was provided by German and English - in quite different ways - English as the language of ultimate hope especially in the younger generation , for the liberation which occurred in was not anticipated, and German for more immediate and practical purposes.
German, as the language of the GDR, was not sanctioned as an 'enemy or suspect language' in the Eastern Bloc as English was, but it did give access to the capitalist world, its scientific and technological developments, and, for the lucky few, a language for the place of escape, usually the Federal Republic, Austria or Switzerland.
It was popularly believed that, with the collapse and dissolution of the. The current status of German in Europe Soviet Union, the vacuum created for a lingua franca to replace Russian, the compulsory language used officially but liked and mastered by few, would be replaced by German. This was because German had been the second language of the cultured and influential middle class in Central and Eastern Europe before the Second World War and even more so before the First World War when many of the countries were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and because the language did enjoy some continuing use and interest in the days of the communist regimes.
Since the political upheavals there has been a renewal of the concept of 'Central Europe' Mitteleuropa , which had been bypassed during the division of Europe into East and West. Banac describes 'Central Europe' as a 'cultural network strongly connected with Vienna'. It has a mythology centring on tolerance and cultural pluralism but with German playing a link role. It may also include Germany, and, since unification, Germany is clearly playing an important role in the link between East and West.
The 'new world order' of the late s was based largely on the notion of regional co-operation. German did attract some increased use and favour as a school language, but the interest in English was not fully anticipated in Germany. It is particularly in multilingual and multicultural areas of Central and Eastern Europe that the position of German shows signs of revitalization.
This includes Transylvania in Romania , Galicia Ukraine , parts of Slovakia, and East Prussia, a former German-speaking area from which Germans were forced to emigrate when it became part of Russia after the Second World War and which has now become geographically separated from Russia. East Prussia is re-emerging as a free trading zone.
In considering the actual situation of German today, let us discuss the factors that give a language an international status. Ammon makes the useful distinction between a lingua franca and an 'asymmetrically dominant' language. German is a lingua franca when Hungarians and Slovaks communicate with each other in it. It is an 'asymmetrically. Ammon offers the beginnings of a quantitative method to assess this. Indicators include i the size of the 'mother tongue community' internationally and in the country concerned, ii the number of countries using the language officially, iii their economic strength, iv the size of the community employing the language as a foreign language, and v 'communicative events' in the language, including radio programmes, academic publications, and number of citations from academic publications in the language.
Of a range of measurable and immeasurable factors discussed by Kloss as determining the international status of a language, Kloss places at the top the number of people who are learning or have learned it as foreign language speakers of other languages. This is followed by the use of the language in international conferences and organizations, and the number of books translated from it.
Coulmas , has given much attention to the economic value of a language, a question of great importance when it comes to status. He has singled out five factors of paramount importance in language status, whether for a national or an international language: i ii iii iv v. The value of German can be gauged by the fact that about 19 million people throughout the world are learning the language, including 12 million in 'Eastern Europe', 6.
Kowar makes the point that Germany and Austria will be the two prime movers that Central and European countries will use to gain them entry into the European Union. The case for German is strengthened by the number of speakers, economic argument and traditional cultural links, but this has to be offset against the perpetuating of negative stereotypes Born ff. In terms of Ammon's and Coulmas s factors, the following points need to be made: i Numbers The 94 million native speakers of German in Europe put the language second in Europe after Russian with million and well ahead of English with 58 million and French with 62 million native speakers in Europe.
The communication radius which a knowledge of German reaches is, however, rather limited, compared with that of English million native speakers throughout the world , French 90 million and Spanish million , all of which are spoken on several continents. There are five countries of Europe with German as a national official language and three others where it has regional official status see 1. English has official status in only two European countries and French in five, of which one Monaco has recently declared its Italian variety Monegasque the official language Magocsi , making France the only European nation with French as its only language.
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German has sole official language status in three countries. For example, German is used in the Engineering Faculty of the Technical University of Sofia Bulgaria , and in a number of faculties of some Turkish universities. But see 1. It is in the area of computer technology that it has been left behind, with software and e-mail networks mainly in English.
Ammon's study of German as a language of academic publications suggests that virtually no one outside the German-language countries still publishes in German in the natural sciences. There is, however, substantial reception of German-language scientific publications, restricted to Europe and strongest in Central and Eastern Europe.
German trails both English and French in many humanities and social sciences. Even in the universities of German-language countries, German has been overtaken by English in many such disciplines, still leading only in Law, Literature, Classics, History and Theology, and tying in Linguistics. German is not even recognized as an official language of the United.
Nations and its organizations, and in comparison with French and particularly English, it plays a limited role as a conference and organizational language in the academic fields Ammon , SkucUik Nevertheless, German is sometimes one of the conference languages of international conferences held in Germany, and East Germans are more likely than West Germans to read conference papers in German Ammon The German economy is, in spite of recession, the strongest in Europe, the one on which most other countries are dependent.
German is, after English and Japanese, the language of the economically most powerful language community Ammon However, there is a tendency for German businesses to communicate with other countries in foreign languages, notably English and French Ammon and for the periodicals of German chambers of commerce in other countries to be partly or wholly in a language other than German Ammon However, within Europe, German emerges from Ammon's data as an asymmetrically dominant language.
With the political changes, there was a dramatic rise in the number of Japanese business people learning German in Goethe Institutes Alois Ilg, personal communication. Tourism, a major industry in Austria, Switzerland and parts of Germany Ammon , and the need to provide for German tourists in other countries Ammon have promoted the German language.
It should be noted, however, that the old Federal Republic had the most negative balance of trade in tourism of any European country Ammon Germany is one of the main countries putting economic resources into the propagation of its language and culture through institutions such as the Goethe Institute and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service. The Goethe Institute promotes the learning and teaching of German as a foreign language as well as German culture through courses, lectures, exhibitions, teacher training and upgrading in co-operation with institutions in its centres in Germany and many other countries.
The DAAD furthers academic exchange between Germany and other countries through scholarships and lecture tours as well as through the appointment of German lecturers at univer-. Of such lectureships, are in Europe. Both bodies have recently been required by the German Government to reappraise their priorities and to transfer more resources to Eastern and Central Europe.
It has been estimated Germany that there was, in , a shortfall of between 10, and 12, German teachers in Poland and 6, and 8, in the then Czechoslovakia. This is being redressed gradually by the sending out of teachers from Germanlanguage countries and by the Goethe Institute retraining programmes for teachers of Russian in Eastern Europe. Austria has also increased its involvement in exporting German language and the culture of the German language see 2. Language Problems and Language Planning.
Wahlperiode, p. Often the investment is offered in a less direct way, for example through the provision of German advisors in industrial development or reconstruction work in Latvia and Lithuania. The controversial question is how much Germany can push its language now that it has more political and economic supremacy in Europe if it wants to continue to regain goodwill lost through National Socialism.
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There are German, Austrian, Swiss or bilingual day schools run or subsidized by the home nation in a number of countries. These schools are either for expatriate nationals or intended for inter-cultural encounter. There are also a large number of Saturday schools in countries with German-speaking immigrants, and the European Schools tend to include German as one of the languages of their bilingual education.
The state churches in Germany, both Catholic and Protestant Evangelisch , also provide clergy for German-speaking congregations in many parts of the world. Over , of them were in Kazakhstan and over , in Russia. In relation to Central Europe, Ammon pinpoints four areas as significant for the status of German: i ii iii iv. The last of these factors is of considerable significance. The significance of the second is waning because of the language shift and migration to Germany from the Soviet Union, Poland and Romania in the late s.
German is stronger as an asymmetrically dominant language in Eastern and Central Europe than as a lingua franca, in which role it has been overtaken by English. Statistics provided by Ammon indicate the strong standing of German in Slovakia and the Hungarian-speaking parts of Romania. Even at the time of his book, Ammon was sceptical about the revival of German as the lingua franca of Central Europe because of the attraction of English, and, to a large extent, his position has been vindicated.
The general picture in most of Eastern and Central Europe is as described by Csaba Foldes for Hungary as a result of his research personal communication : older people are more likely than younger people to use German for external communication because they will have learned it rather than English as a foreign language. Women are more. For the same reasons, inhabitants of small places will use it more than those who live in big cities. Those on national borders use German more than those in the interior of a country.
This will be due to the needs of border groups to communicate more extensively with other ethnolinguistic groups. It should also be remembered Foldes that the German border in Central Europe is Europe's longest border and the number of languages and countries in contact would increase if the Austrian borders were added to the German one. Those with right-wing political views tend to employ German as a lingua franca and those with left-wing views, English.
The 'Russian era' has produced large numbers of people in Eastern and Central Europe who are functionally monolingual Foldes It also seems possible to make the generalization see below that primary schools and less academic secondary schools have more students taking German while those in the more academic secondary schools are more likely to study English.
Eastern and Central European countries are experiencing an acute shortage of German and English teachers, which is being resolved largely through retraining of teachers of Russian. Before the political changes, there was a conspicuous presence of GDR tourists in Prague; now people are coming from all over the world Wochenpost, 5 August , pp. Czechs and other Central Europeans are going much further for their holidays. Hungarians are an important group for the propagation of German. Because they speak a non-Indo-European language which speakers of most European languages find difficult to learn, the onus is usually on them to speak another language for communication with other peoples.
Hungarian speakers constitute a community of over 13 million speakers in Hungary and neighbouring areas - the Vojvodina a former autonomous region of Yugoslavia now closely integrated into Serbia , the Transylvanian region of Romania, the Carpatho-Ukraine and Slovakia, with minorities also in the Austrian province of Burgenland Heuberger and Suppan They have strong cultural links with the German language from Imperial times.
There is a sizeable but shrinking German-speaking community in Hungary, and 14 newspapers and periodicals are published in German. Gal notes some revaluation of German among ethnic Germans in Hungary, especially young adults. A small number of parents are speaking the. In the 8-year schools Year 1 to Year 8 , German is taken by one and a half times as many pupils as English outside Budapest while English is studied more in Years 9 to 12 in the secondary schools Foldes German is perceived by taxi-drivers, waiters, service-station operators as well as professionals as a language that is used increasingly in the professions Bassola Foreign newspapers in news-stands tend to be in German, as does cable TV received in Hungary Foldes The proportion of high-school pupils taking German is higher in Slovakia than in the Czech Republic De Cillia and Anzengruber , Bahlcke , even though there is a much larger German minority in the latter.
A German theatre has been re- established in Prague. The foreign language known by most Slovaks is German, but this is changing, as in other successor states to the former East Bloc countries. The foreign newspapers sold on the streets of Brattislava are German high-quality papers and the mass-circulation Viennese Kronen Zeitung. The Baltic States are developing links with the Nordic Union through Estonia, which shares cultural ties and linguistic similarities with Finland. Lithuania also has strong connections with North America through emigrant communities there. Latvia is the Baltic state which is maintaining its traditional links with the German language most, but mainly in the older and middle generations alongside Russian.
More generally, the year-olds would employ German as their language of inter-cultural communication whereas the unders would tend to use English. Both German and English are providing lexical transfers for signs and. Jakob cites examples from Poland - e. Wand und Boden wall and floor and anders wohnen different living in a furniture store, and K. Officially, each of the languages of the European Union, representing the member states, has equal status. With the admission of Austria, Finland and Sweden, there are now twelve languages, making for combinations of languages for interpreting and translating purposes.
The costs and difficulties of implementing the equal-status policy will rise with the eventual membership of smaller Central and Eastern European countries, all with different languages. While all documents and speeches are translated into all the Union languages, a principle that is inherent in the rationale for the European Union, the versions in the less commonly used languages generally take longer to become available than those in the three languages of inter-cultural communication, English, French and German.
There were, in , 1, translators, terminologists and revisors working for the Commission, for the Council, for the Parliament and for the economic and social committees Born and Schiitte In addition, there were about 3, interpreters Von Donat Some bodies function mainly in one language, e. In effect, there are two predominant languages, English and French, and French is by far the more significant within the bureaucracy of the European Union.
It is the French version that is generally the model for translation into other languages. SchloBmacher forthcoming surveyed officials of the then European Community and Parliament and of the members of the European Parliament on their use of the then nine languages in various situations. There was a strong predominance of French as the oral working language, especially in communication with EC organs but also with EC member countries.
English was used more only in communication with non-EC member countries, and German was hardly used at all. SchloBmacher points out that the proportion using English is constant, while French is increasing its use at the expense of German and other languages. This may change once Central and Eastern European countries are able to join the Union. Parliamentarians are slightly more likely to use English than French,. Source: based on SchloBmacher forthcoming.
English is slightly more likely to be employed in these contexts by non-native speakers than is French. Because German is employed less than the two other LICCs, the German-language translators are the largest contingent and there has been a popular demand in Germany for an improvement in the status of the language in the European Union Von Donat The challenge of the European Union is to promote diversity within a structure that is very centralist.
French speakers are very conscious of the 'threat' posed by the spread of the English language and have clearly been successful in protecting the position of French which predates the entry of Britain and Ireland into the European Community. The strength of French within the Union administration is clearly not reflected in many other European contexts see other sections of this chapter , in which French has not only been exceeded by English but has also fallen behind German.
Born and Angeli draw attention to the fact that there is no European language policy and to the need for one. The impediments are nationalism, economic considerations, and legal problems. Komitologie sorting out communication problems between committees and erweitertes Prdsidium presidium plus representatives, based on French bureau elargi Born In the above discussion, we have often contrasted the situation of German with that of English.
Ammon makes the point several times that, while the position of German may be improving in some ways, it is unreasonable to expect it to compete with English, which, as the language of high technology and pop music, has a particularly strong appeal to the younger generation. Several Western European countries which have, in the recent years, concentrated their language teaching efforts on English, have expressed regret at the declining resources in other languages, including German.
The Netherlands, for instance, is moving towards a return to the three large European languages German and French as well as English in the school curriculum Nationaal Actie Programma. French had declined substantially in Dutch schools, and German was very much subordinated to English in spite of or because of? France is introducing German and Spanish as well as English into the primary schools, and Italy is introducing French and German as well as English.
Some states of Germany itself are implementing a policy of regional language teaching with an emphasis on 'getting to know your neighbour' French, Dutch, Danish. In Spain, German is catching up on French as a foreign language in schools because of the demands of trade and tourism and due to the contacts through Spanish migrant workers in Germany and the German-language part of Switzerland. In a project in progress, Ammon and his colleagues have been studying the self-rated knowledge of English, German and French among.
The academics are distributed across the natural and social sciences and humanities. While the incidence of a knowledge of English was almost identical among those under 45 This would suggest that German would decline further as an academic language. The difference between the proportion of scholars claiming English and German competence was greater in Western countries A further question, on which language s they would recommend young scholars in their field to learn, yielded a clear result in favour of English, followed by German, with French third.
In a study conducted before the political changes in Eastern and Central Europe, Medgyes and Kaplan found that, in science and technology, English had already established a lead over all other languages. Of scholars surveyed, Not being proficient in English was thought to be a disadvantage at an international conference. While English was the undisputed lingua franca of the natural sciences, its position in the humanities and social sciences was not quite so strong and German had a relatively substantial presence in these types of disciplines. Another survey based on a search of job advertisements requiring languages conducted by Ammon and his team in confirmed the place of German between English and French.
Only in Hungary was German in the greatest demand. A proposal to promote multilingualism which has received some attention is Posner's 'polyglot dialogue' whereby everyone has passive command of a number of languages as well as active command of some. In this way, people can speak their own language but be understood by. This mode of communication prevailed in large parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is normal in the Swiss public service Durmuller and in bilingual families.
In some ways, it builds on the semi-communication Haugen among speakers of related Scandinavian and Slavic languages. In response, Ammon argues that this proposal would be unworkable for the amount of linguistic diversity that exists in Europe and would ultimately disadvantage the speakers of less commonly used languages who would need to acquire still more languages, at even greater cost.
In any case, in the Europe of many cultures, it is likely that linguistic diversity will be increasingly propagated and German will continue to play a role, not only as a national and ethnic language but also as a language of inter-cultural communication. In the 'redrawing of the map' of Central and Eastern Europe, Germany has given renewed attention to the international status of German.
Since and as a result of the Second World War, German has declined in the face of the rise of English as the main international language. Since the political changes of , it has redeveloped its position as a link language between East and West, an asymmetrically dominant language, and a regional lingua franca in some parts of Central Europe. Its position is between that of English and French in Europe.
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It has certainly not been able to resist the appeal of English, used across continents as a lingua franca and especially among the young. As an academic language, German has given way to English in the natural sciences and, to a much lesser degree, in the humanities and social sciences. Within the organizations of the European Union, the position of German is overshadowed by both French and English. While there is competition between German and English in the Central European education systems, both are favoured languages. German is likely to continue to play an important role in the multilingual future of Europe.
Ammon is a comprehensive study of this field but will be superseded by the results of his more recent project. Coulmas deals with the economic aspects of this question. Born and Stickel contains conference papers covering many aspects of the topic. German, like English, French, Swahili, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese and other languages, is an instance of what Kloss terms a 'pluricentric' language, i.
Hans Moser 20 describes pluricentric languages as ones which, while uniform across regions in all substantial structural features, cannot be viewed from the perspective of a single centre. This chapter starts by examining the properties of pluricentric languages and then describes the form and function of Standard German in each of the German-language nations and those in which German has some kind of official or quasi-official status. At the end of the chapter, convergence between national varieties of German is discussed.
None of the national varieties of Standard German has developed into a separate language. Kloss Ch. Some languages are guaranteed recognition as such, merely because of their distance from other languages e. Frisian as distinct from Dutch and English. Some, on the other hand, could, historically speaking or in terms of linguistic distance, be regarded as varieties of the same language but are independent because they are assigned the same functions as all other standard languages, usually to stress political distinctiveness e. Sometimes such languages are written in different script.
Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, Croatian and Serbian have diverged increasingly, but Moldavian, which had been declared a separate language after the annexation of Moldavia by the. Soviet Union in , has been redeveloping into a variety of Romanian. National varieties of the standard language should not be confused with regional or local dialects in use or status, even though they may share linguistic features with them, e. They influence our relation with one another, they shape, in a more or less radical way, our institutions, our economies, and our moral values.
This is why we should focus on information technology primarily from an ethical perspective. It is up to the African people and their leaders to question how to transform their lives by these technologies. African educational and research institutions should also reflect critically on these issues. The space of knowledge as a space of freedom is not, as Jollife rightly remarks, an abstract ideal. It has a history that limits its possibilities. It is a space of rules and traditions of specific societies, in dialogue with their foundational myths and utopian aspirations.
We are morally responsible not only for our deeds but for our dreams. Information ethics offers an open space to retrieve and debate these information and communication myths and utopias. The main moral responsibility of African academics is to enrich African identities by retrieving and re-creating African information and communication traditions. Cultural memory must be re-shaped again and again to build the core of a humane society. This means no more and no less than basing morality on memory and communication, thereby establishing information ethics at its core.
It is related to our myths and to our dreams. But not for your dreams! The Egyptian god Thot is a symbol of cultural memory as a social task.
He is the god of wisdom and writing as well as messenger of the gods, particularly of the sun god Re, and is associated with the goddess Maat, the personification of justice. I think that retrieving the African cultural memory with regard to information and communication norms and traditions is the main information challenge for African information ethics. It should recognize the different strategies of social inclusion and exclusion in the history of African societies, including traumatic experiences such as slavery and apartheid.
Since the emergence of the Internet, this challenge is discussed under the heading of the digital divide. But African information ethics implies much more than just the access and use of this medium. The problem is not a technical one, but one of social exclusion, manipulation, exploitation and annihilation of human beings. It is vital that thought about African information ethics be conducted from this broader perspective. As readers will discover, this book has a long history. I began writing it clandestinely in during my imprisonment on Robben Island. Without the tireless labor of my old comrades Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada for reviving my memories, it is doubtful the manuscript would have been completed.
The copy of the manuscript which I kept with me was discovered by the authorities and confiscated. However, in addition to their unique calligraphic skills, my co-prisoners Mac Maharaj and Isu Chiba had ensured that the original manuscript safely reached its destination. I resumed work on it after my release from prison in Since my release, my schedule has been crowded with numerous duties and responsibilities, which have left me little free time for writing. Fortunately, I have had the assistance of dedicated colleagues, friends, and professionals who have helped me complete my work at last, and to whom I would like to express my appreciation.
I am deeply grateful to Richard Stengel who collaborated with me in the creation of this book, providing invaluable assistance in editing and revising the first parts and in the writing of the latter parts. I recall with fondness our early morning walks in the Transkei and the many hours of interviews at Shell House in Johannesburg and my home in Houghton.
A special tribute is owed to Mary Pfaff who assisted Richard in his work. I want to thank especially my comrade Ahmed Kathrada for the long hours spent revising, correcting, and giving accuracy to the story. Many thanks to my ANC office staff, who patiently dealt with the logistics of the making of this book, but in particular to Barbara Masekela for her efficient coordination. Likewise, Iqbal Meer has devoted many hours to watching over the business aspects of the book. I am grateful to my editor, William Phillips of Little, Brown, who has guided this project from early on, and edited the text, and to his colleagues Jordan Pavlin, Steve Schneider, Mike Mattil, and Donna Peterson.
I would also like to thank Professor Gail Gerhart for her factual review of the manuscript. The only rivalry between different clans or tribes in our small world at Qunu was that between the Xhosas and the amaMfengu, a small number of whom lived in our village. AmaMfengu, who were not originally Xhosa-speakers, were refugees from the iMfecane and were forced to do jobs that no other African would do. They worked on white farms and in white businesses, something that was looked down upon by the more established Xhosa tribes.
When I was a boy, amaMfengu were the most advanced section of the community and furnished our clergymen, policemen, teachers, clerks, and interpreters. They were also amongst the first to become Christians, to build better houses, and to use scientific methods of agriculture, and they were wealthier than their Xhosa compatriots. There still existed some hostility toward amaMfengu, but in retrospect, I would attribute this more to jealousy than tribal animosity.
This local form of tribalism that I observed as a boy was relatively harmless. At that stage, I did not witness nor even suspect the violent tribal rivalries that would subsequently be promoted by the white rulers of South Africa. My father did not subscribe to local prejudice toward amaMfengu and befriended two amaMfengu brothers, George and Ben Mbekela. The brothers were an exception in Qunu: they were educated and Christian.
George, the older of the two, was a retired teacher and Ben was a police sergeant. Despite the proselytizing of the Mbekela brothers, my father remained aloof from Christianity and instead reserved his own faith for the great spirit of the Xhosas, Qamata, the God of his fathers. My father was an unofficial priest and presided over ritual slaughtering of goats and calves and officiated at local traditional rites concerning planting, harvest, birth, marriage, initiation ceremonies, and funerals.
He did not need to be ordained, for the traditional religion of the Xhosas is characterized by a cosmic wholeness, so that there is little distinction between the sacred and the secular, between the natural and the supernatural. While the faith of the Mbekela brothers did not rub off on my father, it did inspire my mother, who became a Christian. In fact, Fanny was literally her Christian name, for she had been given it in church. It was due to the influence of the Mbekela brothers that I myself was baptized into the Methodist, or Wesleyan Church as it was then known, and sent to school.
The brothers would often see me playing or minding sheep and come over to talk to me. One day, George Mbekela paid a visit to my mother. But she did relay it to my father, who despite — or perhaps because of — his own lack of education immediately decided that his youngest son should go to school. The schoolhouse consisted of a single room, with a Western-style roof, on the other side of the hill from Qunu.
I was seven years old, and on the day before I was to begin, my father took me aside and told me that I must be dressed properly for school. Until that time, I, like all the other boys in Qunu, had worn only a blanket, which was wrapped around one shoulder and pinned at the waist. My father took a pair of his trousers and cut them at the knee. He told me to put them on, which I did, and they were roughly the correct length, although the waist was far too large. My father then took a piece of string and cinched the trousers at the waist.
On the first day of school, my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name and said that from thenceforth that was the name we would answer to in school. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture. Africans of my generation — and even today — generally have both an English and an African name. Whites were either unable or unwilling to pronounce an African name, and considered it uncivilized to have one.
That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why she bestowed this particular name upon me I have no idea. Perhaps it had something to do with the great British sea captain Lord Nelson, but that would be only a guess. My later notions of leadership were profoundly influenced by observing the regent and his court. I watched and learned from the tribal meetings that were regularly held at the Great Place. These were not scheduled, but were called as needed, and were held to discuss national matters such as a drought, the culling of cattle, policies ordered by the magistrate, or new laws decreed by the government.
All Thembus were free to come — and a great many did, on horseback or by foot. They were wise men who retained the knowledge of tribal history and custom in their heads and whose opinions carried great weight. Letters advising these chiefs and headmen of a meeting were dispatched from the regent, and soon the Great Place became alive with important visitors and travelers from all over Thembuland.
From that point on, he would not utter another word until the meeting was nearing its end. Everyone who wanted to speak did so. It was democracy in its purest form. There may have been a hierarchy of importance among the speakers, but everyone was heard, chief and subject, warrior and medicine man, shopkeeper and farmer, landowner and laborer. People spoke without interruption and the meetings lasted for many hours. The foundation of self-government was that all men were free to voice their opinions and equal in their value as citizens.
Women, I am afraid, were deemed second-class citizens. A great banquet was served during the day, and I often gave myself a bellyache by eating too much while listening to speaker after speaker. I noticed how some speakers rambled and never seemed to get to the point. I grasped how others came to the matter at hand directly, and who made a set of arguments succinctly and cogently. I observed how some speakers used emotion and dramatic language, and tried to move the audience with such techniques, while other speakers were sober and even, and shunned emotion.
At first, I was astonished by the vehemence — and candor — with which people criticized the regent. He was not above criticism — in fact, he was often the principal target of it. But no matter how flagrant the charge, the regent simply listened, not defending himself, showing no emotion at all. The meetings would continue until some kind of consensus was reached. They ended in unanimity or not at all. Unanimity, however, might be an agreement to disagree, to wait for a more propitious time to propose a solution.
Democracy meant all men were to be heard, and a decision was taken together as a people. Majority rule was a foreign notion. A minority was not to be crushed by a majority. Only at the end of the meeting, as the sun was setting, would the regent speak. His purpose was to sum up what had been said and form some consensus among the diverse opinions. But no conclusion was forced on people who disagreed.
If no agreement could be reached, another meeting would be held. At the very end of the council, a praise-singer or poet would deliver a panegyric to the ancient kings, and a mixture of compliments to and satire on the present chiefs, and the audience, led by the regent, would roar with laughter. As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Place. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion.
Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. It was at Mqhekezweni that I developed my interest in African history. I learned of these men from the chiefs and headmen who came to the Great Place to settle disputes and try cases.
Though not lawyers, these men presented cases and then adjudicated them. Some days, they would finish early and sit around telling stories. I hovered silently and listened. Their speech was formal and lofty, their manner slow and unhurried, and the traditional clicks of our language were long and dramatic. At first, they shooed me away and told me I was too young to listen. Later they would beckon me to fetch fire or water for them, or to tell the women they wanted tea, and in those early months I was too busy running errands to follow their conversation.
But, eventually, they permitted me to stay, and I discovered the great African patriots who fought against Western domination. My imagination was fired by the glory of these African warriors. The most ancient of the chiefs who regaled the gathered elders with ancient tales was Zwelibhangile Joyi, a son from the Great House of King Ngubengcuka. Chief Joyi was so old that his wrinkled skin hung on him like a loose-fitting coat. His stories unfolded slowly and were often punctuated by a great wheezing cough, which would force him to stop for minutes at a time.
Chief Joyi was the great authority on the history of the Thembus in large part because he had lived through so much of it. But as grizzled as Chief Joyi often seemed, the decades fell off him when he spoke of the young impis, or warriors, in the army of King Ngangelizwe fighting the British. In pantomime, Chief Joyi would fling his spear and creep along the veld as he narrated the victories and defeats.
When he first spoke of non-Xhosa warriors, I wondered why. I was like a boy who worships a local soccer hero and is not interested in a national soccer star with whom he has no connection. Only later was I moved by the broad sweep of African history, and the deeds of all African heroes regardless of tribe.
Chief Joyi railed against the white man, who he believed had deliberately sundered the Xhosa tribe, dividing brother from brother. The white man had told the Thembus that their true chief was the great white queen across the ocean and that they were her subjects. But the white queen brought nothing but misery and perfidy to the black people, and if she was a chief she was an evil chief. Chief Joyi said that the African people lived in relative peace until the coming of the abelungu, the white people, who arrived from across the sea with fire-breathing weapons.
Once, he said, the Thembu, the Mpondo, the Xhosa, and the Zulu were all children of one father, and lived as brothers. The white man shattered the abantu, the fellowship, of the various tribes. The white man was hungry and greedy for land, and the black man shared the land with him as they shared the air and water; land was not for man to possess. I did not yet know that the real history of our country was not to be found in standard British textbooks, which claimed South Africa began with the landing of Jan Van Riebeeck at the Cape of Good Hope in It was from Chief Joyi that I began to discover that the history of the Bantuspeaking peoples began far to the north, in a country of lakes and green plains and valleys, and that slowly over the millennia we made our way down to the very tip of this great continent.
I was assisted by Mr. Festile, the induna at the Chamber of Mines, who was once again playing a fateful role in my life. On his own initiative he had decided to offer me free accommodation in the mining compound. Few spoke English, and the lingua franca was an amalgam of many tongues known as Fanagalo. There, I saw not only flare-ups of ethnic animosity, but the comity that was also possible among men of different backgrounds.
Yet I was a fish out of water there. Instead of spending my days underground, I was studying or working in a law office where the only physical activity was running errands or putting files in a cabinet. Because the WNLA was a way station for visiting chiefs, I had the privilege of meeting tribal leaders from all over southern Africa.
I recall on one occasion meeting the queen regent of Basutoland, or what is now Lesotho , Mantsebo Moshweshwe. I asked them about Jongilizwe, and for an hour I seemed to be back in Thembuland as they told colorful tales about his early years. The queen took special notice of me and at one point addressed me directly, but she spoke in Sesotho, a language in which I knew few words.
Sesotho is the language of the Sotho people as well as the Tswana, a large number of whom live in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
The question embarrassed and sobered me; it made me realize my parochialism and just how unprepared I was for the task of serving my people. I had unconsciously succumbed to the ethnic divisions fostered by the white government and I did not know how to speak to my own kith and kin. Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs. I again realized that we were not different people with separate languages; we were one people, with different tongues.
Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another. Since the turn of the century, Africans owed their educational opportunites primarily to the foreign churches and missions that created and sponsored schools.
Under the United Party, the syllabus for African secondary schools and white secondary schools was essentially the same. The mission schools provided Africans with Western-style English-language education, which I myself received. We were limited by lesser facilities but not by what we could read or think or dream. Yet, even before the Nationalists came to power, the disparities in funding tell a story of racist education. The government spent about six times as much per white student as per African student.
Education was not compulsory for Africans and was free only in the primary grades. Less than half of all African children of school age attended any school at all, and only a tiny number of Africans were graduated from high school. Even this amount of education proved distasteful to the Nationalists.
The Afrikaner has always been unenthusiastic about education for Africans. To him it was simply a waste, for the African was inherently ignorant and lazy and no amount of education could remedy that. The Afrikaner was traditionally hostile to Africans learning English, for English was a foreign tongue to the Afrikaner and the language of emancipation to us.
One morning, several days after my meeting with Bram and Joel, we were taken to the head office. The head office was only about a quarter of a mile away and was a simple stone structure that resembled our own section. Once there, we were lined up to have our fingerprints taken, which was routine prison service business. But while waiting, I noticed a warder with a camera. After our fingerprints had been taken, the chief warder ordered us to line up for photographs.
The warder was taken aback by my request and was unable to offer any explanation or produce anything in writing from the commissioner of prisons. He threatened to charge us if we did not consent to have our photographs taken, but I said that if there was no authorization, there would be no pictures, and that is where the matter remained. As a rule, we objected to having our pictures taken in prison on the grounds that it is generally demeaning to be seen as a prisoner.
But there was one photograph I did consent to, the only one I ever agreed to while on Robben Island. One morning, a few weeks later, the chief warder, instead of handing us hammers for our work in the courtyard, gave us each needles and thread and a pile of worn prison jerseys. We were instructed to repair the garments, but we discovered that most of these jerseys were frayed beyond repair. This struck us as a curious task, and we wondered what had provoked the change. The commanding officer announced that the two visitors were a reporter and photographer from the Daily Telegraph in London.
He related this as if visiting members of the international press were a regular diversion for us. Although these men were our first official visitors, we regarded them skeptically. Firstly, they were brought in under the auspices of the government, and second, we were aware that the Telegraph was a conservative newspaper unlikely to be sympathetic to our cause. The two journalists walked slowly around the courtyard, surveying us. We kept our heads down concentrating on our work.
The prison service regulations were explicit that each prisoner was permitted to speak only for himself. This was done to negate the power of organization and to neutralize our collective strength. We objected to this role, but made little headway. We were not even permitted to use the word we when we made complaints.
But during the first few years, when the authorities needed one prisoner to speak on behalf of others, that individual would be me. I talked to the reporter, whose name was Mr. Newman, for about twenty minutes, and was candid about both prison and the Rivonia Trial. He was an agreeable fellow, and at the end of our talk, he said he would like the photographer to take my picture.
I was reluctant, but in this case relented because I knew the photograph would only be published overseas, and might serve to help our cause if the article was even the least bit friendly. I told him I would agree provided Mr. Sisulu could join me. The image shows the two of us talking in the courtyard about some matter that I can no longer remember. I never saw the article or heard anything about it. The reporters were barely out of sight when the warders removed the jerseys and gave us back our hammers.
The men from the Telegraph were the first of a small stream of visitors during those early months. There were stories in the press about the inhuman conditions on the island, about how we were being assaulted and tortured. These allegations embarrassed the government, and to combat them they brought in a string of outsiders meant to rebut these critical stories. We were briefly visited by a British lawyer who had argued for Namibian independence before the World Court , after which we were informed that a Mr.
Hynning, a representative of the American Bar Association, would be coming to see us. Americans were then a novelty in South Africa , and I was curious to meet a representative of so august a legal organization. On the day of Mr. The American arrived in the company of General Steyn, the commissioner of prisons, who rarely made appearances on the island. General Steyn was that unusual thing in the prison service, a polished and sophisticated man. His suits were always of a fine quality and a fashionable cut. Yet General Steyn oppressed us by omission rather than commission.
He basically turned a blind eye to what was happening on the island. His habitual absence emboldened the more brutal prison officials and gave them carte blanche to do whatever they wanted.
The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel
General Steyn nodded in my direction, and I stood up. In contrast to General Steyn, Mr. Hynning was a heavyset, unkempt man. I thanked him for visiting us and said we were honored by his presence. I then summarized our complaints, beginning with the central and most important one, that we were political prisoners, not criminals, and that we should be treated as such. I enumerated our grievances about the food, our living conditions, and the work detail. But as I was speaking, Mr. Hynning kept interrupting me. When I made a point about the long hours doing mindless work, he declared that as prisoners we had to work and were probably lazy to boot.
When I started to detail the problems with our cells, he interjected that the conditions in backward American prisons were far worse than Robben Island , which was a paradise by comparison. He added that we had been justly convicted and were lucky not to have received the death penalty, which we probably deserved.
Hynning perspired a great deal and there were those among us who thought he was not altogether sober. He spoke in what I assumed was a southern American accent, and had a curious habit of spitting when he talked, something none of us had ever seen before. Under the circumstances, it was difficult to keep tempers down. The men were angered by Mr. Normally, a visit of any kind lifted our spirits but the visit of Mr. Hynning was demoralizing. Perhaps that is what the authorities wanted. To meet someone with so impressive an affiliation and so little understanding was depressing.
Hynning finally just turned and walked away without so much as a good-bye. We were not sorry to see him go. We discussed Mr. Hynning for years afterward and many of the men imitated the way he spoke to comic effect. We never heard about him again, and he certainly did not win any friends on Robben Island for the American Bar Association.
In jail, all prisoners are classified by the authorities as one of four categories: A, B, C, or D. A is the highest classification and confers the most privileges; D is the lowest and confers the least. The privileges affected by these classifications included visits and letters, studies, and the opportunity to buy groceries and incidentals — all of which are the lifeblood of any prisoner.
It normally took years for a political prisoner to raise his status from D to C. We disdained the classification system. It was corrupt and demeaning, another way of repressing prisoners in general and political prisoners in particular. We demanded that all political prisoners be in one category.
Although we criticized it, we could not ignore it: the classification system was an inflexible feature of prison life. If you protested that, as a D Group prisoner, you could receive only one letter every six months, the authorities would say, Improve your behavior, become a C Group prisoner, and you will be able to receive two letters every six months. If you complained that you did not receive enough food, the authorities would remind you that if you were in A Group, you would be able to receive money orders from the outside and purchase extra food at the prison canteen.
Even a freedom fighter benefits from the ability to buy groceries and books. If you were sentenced to eight years, you would generally be classified as D for the first two years, C for the next two, B for the following two, and A for the last two. But the prison authorities wielded the classification system as a weapon against political prisoners, threatening to lower our hard-won classifications in order to control our behavior.
While I desired the privileges that came with higher classifications, I refused to compromise my conduct. Every six months, prisoners were called before the prison board to have their classifications evaluated. The board was meant to assess our behavior in terms of prison regulations, but we found that it preferred to act as a political tribunal rather than a mere evaluator of behavior.
During my first meeting with the board, the officials asked me questions about the ANC and my beliefs. Although this had nothing to do with the classification system, I was vain enough to answer and think that I might convert them to my beliefs. It was one of the few times we were treated as human beings, and I for one responded. Later I realized that this was simply a technique on the part of the authorities to glean information from us, and I had fallen for it. Shortly afterward, we agreed among ourselves not to discuss politics with the prison board.
As a D Group prisoner, I was entitled to have only one visitor, and to write and receive only one letter, every six months. I found this one of the most inhumane restrictions of the prison system. But it was one of the facts of prison life. This was a restriction we not only found irksome but racist. The African sense of immediate family is far different from that of the European or Westerner.
Our family structures are larger and more inclusive; anyone who claims descent from a common ancestor is deemed part of the same family. It is always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill tidings was always preferable to no letter at all. But even this miserable restriction was abused by the authorities. The anticipation of mail was overwhelming.
Mail call took place once a month, and sometimes six months would go by without a letter. To be allowed one letter in six months and then not to receive it is a great blow. One wonders: What has happened to my wife and children, to my mother and my sisters? When I did not receive a letter I felt as dry and barren as the Great Karroo desert. Often the authorities would withhold mail out of spite. It required all my self-discipline not to explode at such times. Afterward, I would protest through the proper channels, and sometimes get it. When letters did arrive, they were cherished.
A letter was like the summer rain that could make even the desert bloom. When I was handed a letter by the authorities, I would not rush forward and grab it as I felt like doing, but take it in a leisurely manner. Though I yearned to tear it open and read it on the spot, I would not give the authorities the satisfaction of seeing my eagerness, and I would return slowly to my cell as though I had many things to occupy me before opening a letter from my family.
During the first few months, I received one letter from Winnie, but it was so heavily censored that not much more than the salutation was left. They began to use razors to slice out whole paragraphs. Since most letters were written on both sides of a single piece of paper, the material on the other side would also be excised. They seemed to relish delivering letters in tatters. The censorship delayed the delivery of mail because warders, some of whom were not proficient in English, might take as long as a month to censor a letter.
The letters we wrote were censored as well; they were often as cut up as the letters we received. At the end of August, after I had been on the island less than three months, I was informed by the authorities that I would have a visitor the following day. They would not tell me who it was. Walter was informed that he, too, would have a visitor, and I suspected, I hoped, I wished — I believed — that it would be a visit from Winnie and Albertina.
From the moment Winnie learned we had been brought to the island, she had been trying to arrange a visit. As a banned person, Winnie had to receive a special dispensation from the minister of justice, for she was technically not permitted to communicate with me. Even with the help of the authorities, visiting Robben Island was not an easy proposition.
Visits were a maximum of thirty minutes long, and political prisoners were not permitted contact visits, in which the visitor and prisoner were in the same room. Visits did not seem to be planned in advance by the authorities. If a family member was able to plan a visit in advance, the authorities would sometimes deliberately delay issuing a permit until after the plane had departed.
Some men who came from poor families did not see their wives for many years at a time, if at all. I knew of men who spent a decade or more on Robben Island without a single visit. The visiting room for noncontact visits was cramped and windowless. One sat in a chair and looked through the thick, smudged glass that had a few small holes drilled into it to permit conversation. One had to talk very loudly to be heard. Later the authorities installed microphones and speakers in front of the glass, a marginal improvement. Winnie always dressed up for prison visits, and tried to wear something new and elegant.
It was tremendously frustrating not to be able to touch my wife, to speak tenderly to her, to have a private moment together. We had to conduct our relationship at a distance under the eyes of people we despised. I could see immediately that Winnie was under tremendous strain. Seeing me in such circumstances must have been trying. Just getting to the island itself was difficult, and added to that were the harsh rituals of the prison, the undoubted indignities of the warders, and the impersonality of the contact.
Winnie, I later discovered, had recently received a second banning order and had been terminated from her job at the Child Welfare Office as a result. Her office was searched by the police shortly before she was fired. The authorities were convinced that Winnie was in secret communication with me. Winnie loved her job as a social worker. It was the hands-on end of the struggle: placing babies with adoptive parents, finding work for the unemployed and medical help for the uninsured. The banning and harassment of my wife greatly troubled me: I could not look after her and the children, and the state was making it difficult for her to look after herself.
My powerlessness gnawed at me. Our conversation was awkward at first, and was not made easier by the presence of two warders standing directly behind her and three behind me. Their role was not only to monitor but to intimidate. Regulations dictated that conversation had to be in either English or Afrikaans — African languages were forbidden — and could involve family matters only.
Any line of talk that departed from the family and verged on the political might mean the abrupt termination of the visit. If one mentioned a name unfamiliar to the warders, they would interrupt the conversation, and ask who the person was and the nature of the relationship. This happened often, as the warders were generally unfamiliar with the variety and nature of African names. But their ignorance also worked in our favor: it allowed us to invent code names for people we wanted to talk about and pretend that we were referring to family members. That first visit was important, for I knew that Winnie was anxious about my health: she had heard stories that we were being physically abused.
I quickly informed her that I was fine and she could see that I was fit, though a bit thinner than before. She, too, was thinner, something I always attributed to stress. She was always dieting, and I was always telling her not to. Time up! It was impossible that half an hour had passed. But, in fact, he was right; visits always seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.
I always felt like lingering after Winnie left, just to retain the sense of her presence, but I would not let the warders see such emotion. As I walked back to the cell, I reviewed in my head what we had talked about. Over the next days, weeks, and months, I would return to that one visit again and again. I knew I would not be able to see my wife again for at least six months.
As it turned out, Winnie was not able to visit me for another two years.