Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

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Please click here to leave an anniversary message (in any language you choose). You do not need to be a member of Lowlands-L to do so. In fact, we would be more than thrilled to receive messages from anyone.
Click here to read what others have written so far.

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: South AfricaFlag: South AfricaRudi Vári

Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Hi all

My name is Rudi Vári. Now you folks might wonder what a Hungarian is doing on this list. Frankly, I am not a Hungarian and I never was. I sadly have not even visited the country of that half of my ancestors. The other half of my family originated in Overijssel.

Due to famine in Hungary, my dad was shipped off to the Netherlands, together with dozens of other Hungarian kids, where he grew up in foster care. Having turned 21, he started proceedings to naturalise, but all attempts were stalled by the authorities in den Haag, as Hungarians were not welcome in the Netherlands. He had to rescind his Hungarian citizenship as part of his application for naturalization … and then the war (II) started, leaving him stateless. When my mom and dad married in Amsterdam she promptly lost her Dutch nationality as she was now married to a stateless person (unspeakable in those days!!). I was born in Amsterdam, as were my sister and brother.

All my efforts to get my mom to speak Overijssels with me were rebuffed as it was regarded as an inferior dialect. This attitude apparently was very common in those days. Especially in my dad as he had become a super correct Dutch speaker and writer.

Due to the bad economical climate in Holland after the war (no paying jobs), my parents packed up their three kids and their few belongings in 1948 and headed off to South Africa, where we have been ever since. At that stage South Africa was just embarking on its social experiment which later was called apartheid. A very bad time for immigrants indeed!

As a family we still speak Dutch to each other and I still speak Dutch to my kids. Only very much later in my life did I discover that what I had thought was dialect, and therefore bad, was actually a language in its own right: Nedersaksisch with many different expressions (dialects). This was the language of the Dutch part of my ancestors, and the only one where I saw a chance of forging a link with the past. Consequently all the goings-on on the LL list are helping to establish that link—even the highly technical linguistic jargon.

Rudi Vári

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