Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Flag: GermanyGabriele Kahn

Location: Solling, Lower Saxony, Germany

My name is Gabriele E. Kahn; I was born in Northeim in Southern Lower Saxony, and grew up in the nearby village of Fredelsloh (known for its colony of artists and especially its potteries, a trade that can be traced back over a thousand years in that village). This forest area, the “Solling”, is a nature preserve between the Harz mountains to the East and the Weser river to the west. Having been homesick all my life, I am finally going to move back to the Solling in April 2005.

As a teenager, I moved to Hameln on the Weser (this is “Hamelin” of Pied Piper fame). Later, I lived in various areas of Germany for a few years each, including Hesse, Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and North Rhine-Westphalia, interrupted by 8 years in the USA (mostly Oregon) from 1991 to 1999. I became a List member quite early on, then took a long break when I was struggling to piece my life back together after some very difficult times, and finally rejoined the list in 2002.

My native tongue is German; I grew up with various flavours of Lower Saxon, however, with my mother’s family from Mecklenburg and Hesse, my father’s family from the Harz mountains and the Lüneburger Heide north of Hanover, the local Sollinger Platt, Hamburger Platt and “Missingsch” spoken by a dear old family friend, and later the special variety of Platt spoken in Hameln. Add to that Lower Saxon literature by Fritz Reuter, Wilhelm Busch, Klaus Groth and others, plus the fact that I learned Dutch in my early twenties when I married a Dutchman (not for long, but my affection for “het koude kikkerlandje” survived), and it becomes obvious that my Lower Saxon proficiency is mostly passive these days because I speak (or rather, think in) a unique, personal mixture of all these different flavours (heavily masked by Dutch now), and “pure” speakers – or those who like to think they are – will just tell me that I’m saying it all wrong. Still, Lower Saxon remains my favourite language to sing in, the one that feels the most “natural”.

My other languages include English, French, and Spanish; I also speak a little Swedish and can read most Scandinavian languages, plus there’s a little rusty Russian from way back when. I am also particularly fond of Scots, and able to read and understand it.

Although I have a degree in biology, I switched to translation when the first of my three daughters was born, and from there to computers, working as a QA technician at Intel for some time. Since 2002, I have established myself as a free-lance translator (“Global Moose Translations”) and interpreter for German, English, Dutch, and French. Just for fun, I have translated several poems by the 19th century Lower Saxon poet/painter/cartoonist Wilhelm Busch into English; some of them can be found here: www.rivertext.com/busch.shtml.

I certainly do not consider myself a linguist, although I make a living from the creative use of language (also writing prose and poetry, mainly in German and English). To be honest, as soon as I hear “schwa” or “vowel shift”, my eyes glaze over and I struggle to stay awake as I work the scroll bar. Mostly, I’m here for the linguistic fun, being a great lover of languages, dialects, accents, expressions, proverbs, songs, ballads, jokes, riddles, tales, anecdotes, cryptic crosswords, and bad multi-lingual puns. That is why I have been officially relegated to the LL peanut gallery, which suits me just fine, as I get plenty of visitors.

Gabriele Kahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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