Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. November 2005

7.1. Entlehnung und Übersetzung am Kreuzweg von Sprache und kulturellem Kontakt
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: George Echu (Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Unifying and Dividing Aspects of Culture: Borrowing and Translation among Viennese Jewish Refugees in London

Eva Eppler (University of Surrey Roehampton)



The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how borrowing, code mixing and translation can act as both unifying and dividing forces in language and culture contact. Among the first generation of Viennese Jewish refugees residing in London, German and English - and elements from both languages - do not necessarily express culture-bound concepts but sever more covert, symbolic functions (as 'we' and 'they' codes, or to express shades of meaning). First and second generation can take diametrically opposed directions on the intersection of language and culture contact, and both codes can be used to express the resulting tension. Individuals not caught up in this conflict can enhance cross-cultural relations by conveying concepts and ideas from one culture to another. Individuals from this speech community thus use borrowing and translation for a variety of different purposes.

1. Introduction

Borrowing, code mixing and translation can act as both unifying and dividing forces in language and culture contact. The bridging role of borrowing and translation will be the focus of many presentations in this section. My main focus will be to show how language and culture loss can cause conflict between three generations of Viennese Jewish refugees residing in London, and how borrowing, code mixing and translation can be used to express this friction.

Borrowing and code mixing are language and culture-contact phenomena. Translation, on the other hand, enables communication between speakers who do not share a language. Since at least the first generation of the speech community under investigation is bilingual, I will be mainly talking about borrowing and code mixing. Translation is only used in this community to convey concepts and ideas to people who are not perceived to be bilingual.

In his seminal paper on the analysis of linguistic borrowing Einar Haugen (1950: 211) reflects on appropriate terminology to describe language contact phenomena. He regards the metaphor implied in the term borrowing as inapt, as in linguistic borrowing, the act of borrowing takes place without the lender's consent or even awareness. The borrower, furthermore, is under no obligation to repay the loan. After considering 'stealing', 'adoption' and 'diffusion', Haugen (1950: 211) finally settles for borrowing, as the term is not applied to language by laymen and thus remains comparatively unambiguous in linguistic discussions. I define linguistic borrowing as the introduction into language A of lexical items and set expressions of language B. For the purpose of this conference I would like to add to this rather abstract definition of borrowing an observation made by Uriel Weinreich "borrowing... can often be explained by investigating the points at which a given vocabulary is inadequate in the cultural environment in which contact occurs" (Weinreich, 1953: 3). In this paper I will focus on words denoting culture-bound concepts or 'cultural words' (Newmark, 1988: 94).

Einar Haugen (1950: 211) also dismisses 'mixture of languages' as an appropriate term to describe the introduction of elements from one language into the other because "it implies the creation of an entirely new entity and the disappearance of both constituents" (Haugen, 1950: 211). Despite Haugan's reservations, mixing (or code-mixing) is still used in linguistic research today, and it describes the use of both codes by a close-knit network of Austrian Jewish refugees in London quite accurately, as we shall see. Code mixing is defined as "the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems" (Gumperz, 1982: 59). A mixture of languages is the result of bilingual speakers combining elements from two languages when producing sentences, that is, "all cases where lexical items and grammatical features from two languages appear in one sentence" (Muysken, 2000: 1).

Translation can be defined as a form of intercultural communication (Leppihalme, 1997: 5). In recent ethnographic approaches to translation this process is frequently regarded as a linguistic and cultural practise which produces the cultural Other (Wolf, 2002: 118).

In his 1950 paper, Haugen furthermore formulates the prerequisite for the cultural and linguistic phenomena we are concentrating on: "borrowing by one language from another is predicated on some minimum of bilingual mastery of the two languages. For any large-scale borrowing a considerable group of bilinguals has to be assumed. The analysis of borrowing must therefore begin with an analysis of the behaviour of bilingual speakers" (Haugen, 1950: 210). I will start by introducing the group of bilinguals that borrow and mix on a large scale in the data this paper is based on, but I will let the informants do most of the talking. The extracts from speaker DOR's oral history contain borrowing, code mixing and translation. These examples will be discussed in section three.


2. The informants - an oral history

The data are predominantly from a first generation Jewish refugee from Vienna (DOR), her London-born daughter (VIV) and her grandson. DOR is a member of a unique speech community: Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Austria following the "Anschluss" of Austria to the German Reich on March 12 th 1938. Between the beginning of May that year and the end of 1941 approximately 70% of the 206 000 Austrian Jews left Austria. DOR was one of them.


*EVA: wann haben sie Wien verlassen?

when did you leave Vienna?

*DOR: ich hab(e) neun und dreissig +...

I [left in nineteen] thirty-nine

*DOR: but I [//] ich hab(e) sehr schoene zeiten gehabt.

I had had a very good time

*DOR: ich war sehr happy so +...

I was very

27 293 to 30 850 (Muchitsch, 1992: 9) Austrian Jewish refugees left for the United Kingdom. Most of them settled in NW London. DOR explains why.


*DOR: +, aber hier in Hampstead # xxx # auf der strasse # man hat nur Deutsch gesprochen .

but here in Hampstead # xxx # in the street # people only spoke German

*EVA: wann war das ungefaehr?

when was that, roughly?

*DOR: das war nach dem krieg # und auch jetzt # wenn ich gehe xxx stimmen hoere +...

that was after the war # and even nowadays # when I walk and hear voices +...

*DOR: es ist ja more eine bohemian [//] so # you know.

it is more of a bohemian [area]

*DOR: deswegen sind wir doch alle hier -. .

that's why we are all here

*DOR: +^ weil es war nicht so typisch englisch.

because it wasn't typically English

*DOR: da war-0*en so, you know, continental geschaefte und das essen +...

there were shops and the food +...

These speakers have been in contact with the English language and culture for more than half a century at the time of data collection, and the above examples already illustrate that

Due to conditions of immigration, the majority of refugees were in their teens when they arrived in the UK. Many of them started a family soon after World War II. In DOR's case, there were three generations living together in London after 1945. Both family and friends were predominantly Austrian.


*DOR: und ich hab(e) [//] vielleicht ist das der fehler [/-] ich hab(e) lauter oesterreichische freunde.

And I have [//] maybe that's the mistake [//] all my friends are Austrians.

*DOR: +, hardly any Englaender -. because mein mann war auch ein Wiene .

English people my husband was Viennese too

*DOR: and mein-0* eltern sind nach dem krieg gekommen.

my parents came after the war

*DOR: haben wir doch auch nur Deutsch gesprochen.

we too only spoke German

*DOR: das einzige # mit meiner tochter # mit meinem enkerl muss ich Englisch sprechen.

the only thing # with my daughter # with my grandson I have to speak English

The daughter soon associated herself with the host country, culture and language and conflict started arising within the family.


*DOR: sie [VIV, the daughter] hat muessen [*] Deutsch sprechen mit meinen eltern.

she had to speak English with my parents

*DOR: aber sie hat sie gezwungen, dass sie Englisch lernen.

but she forced them to learn English

*DOR: sie hat immer gesagt +"/.

she always said

*DOR: +" you are in England # you have to speak English +".

*DOR: so haben sie muessen [*] Englisch lernen.

so they had to learn English.

Almost an hour into the recording, the recently arrived daughter VIV confirms what DOR has just told us - not in a literal translation - but in a very close English rendering of the message content.

*VIV: in fact my grandmother, who was older # than xxx you [DOR] xxx # spoke better English than you .

*VIV: because # I insisted, she'd speak English, living in this country # ahm +...

Pressure to acquire the host-culture language therefore arose early on from within and outside the family. During World War II my informants were regarded as 'Enemy Aliens' by the British government and by sections of the British population, which furthermore increased the pressure to assimilate to the English-speaking majority. DOR, however, clearly preferred to socialise with people of her own linguistic and cultural background. She explains this preference as follows


*DOR: aber wir waren nie mit richtige-0 Englaender zusammen,, nicht?

but we never mingled with real English people,, no?

*DOR: man haette koennen # man hat nicht wollen.

we could have # we did not want to

*DOR: es war viel [//] es war unsere eigene schuld -. .

much of it was our own falt

*DOR: because man fuehlt sich mit den eigenen leuten wohler.

because one fels more at ease with one's own people

*DOR: you know,, wir haben die selbe # ahm@u

we have the same

nicht nur die sprache, die selbe mentality.

not only the language, the same

*DOR: we enjoy [//] wir gehen gerne ins kaffeehaus # noch immer.

we enjoy going to the coffee house # still

*DOR: you know,, wir sitzten da fuer stunden +...

we sit there for hours

@Activities: laughter

*DOR: wir haben different +//.

we have

*DOR: die selben [%pho: idea-en] eigentlich # wie wir s(ie) als kinder gehabt haben .

the same ideas , really, we had as children

*DOR: es setzt 0sich fort.

it continues

*DOR: so # man hat nicht so viel in common mit den Englaendern.

so # one does not have so much with the English people.

DOR shows a high level of cultural and linguistic awareness and readily admits to never having identified with her host country. Even half a century after emigration, home is still Austria for her. In extract (6) the conversation revolves around cultural and linguistic acculturation


*EVA: xxx it always depends on how far you identify with the country where you are living.

*VIV: obviously none of you lot did identify,, did you?

*DOR: no.

*VIV: you still talk of home as Austria.

*DOR: ja.

@Activities: DOR laughing

*DOR: it's true.

*VIV: I mean, it's got to be.

*DOR: when [/] when we say, we go home, we don't mean +...

*VIV: which is [/] is really quite sad.

*DOR: yes # but we all do.

*VIV: I know # but you +/.

*DOR: she [VIV] can't understand but xxx.

*VIV: no I don't understand it.

DOR's daughter VIV, on the other hand, wants to be fully integrated into English society and culture and is painfully aware of her parents' and grandparents' "foreignness".


*VIV: now,, in contrast from what you are saying, I am the only English child of # of a foreign family.

She feels embarrassed when her family background is revealed among monolingual English people.


*VIV: when you used to ring me at work +...

*DOR: ye(a) that's right.

*VIV: +, you used to say [/-] you know # (be)cause here again # it was a very [/-] you know # sort of # very well spoken English people there .

*VIV: and they said uhm +"/.

*VIV: Vivien a foreign lady is on the phone for you.

@Activities: laughter

*VIV: xxx it's my mother!


3. Discussion of the examples presented so far

The data presented so far illustrate that mother and daughter take diametrically opposed roads to the intersection of language and culture. Having had to flee from NS-occupied Austria, DOR tries to hold onto the fond memories of her childhood and adolescence in Vienna. When asked when she left Austria in extract (1), she answers the question, as required by discourse rules. But what it obviously more important to her is to convey to her conversational partner that she was very happy in her hometown Vienna.

In extract (2) DOR explains why the majority of Jewish refugees chose to live in NW London. The fact that her mother tongue was the predominant language spoken and heard in that district then and now seems to be of prominent importance, as it is mentioned first. She then moves on to explain other cultural reason for choosing this particular area of London. Her choice of the English word bohemian in an otherwise predominantly German context is interesting (although I would not like to over-interpret it, for reasons explained later on). Bohemian in English does not only refer to "a native of Bohemia" (OED) but also to a "socially unconventional person" (ibid.). The semantic entries for the German word böhmisch deviate from the English ones. Böhmisch means "somebody or something originating from Bohemia" and "gibberish". Thus only the English word is appropriate in this context and by carefully choosing a shade of meaning, DOR furthermore shows us that she is acutely aware of her cultural status in the United Kingdom, i.e. as a socially unconventional person.

After reinforcing the reasons why the majority of refugees settled in NW London, DOR highlights the socio-cultural contrast with the majority culture/population by explicitly formulating because it wasn't typically English. Chronologically, the third important factor for choosing to live in this particular area of London was the availability of continental shops and food. The choice of the English word continental is again interesting - with the same caveat as beforehand - as it indicates a considerable amount of acculturation. As far as I am aware, it is only the British that have a special term to refer to the "rest of Europe" that is not a cultural and linguistic island, and that is continental. This statement again indicates DOR's acute awareness of the cultural differences between her home and host culture. And of course food is slowly but surely becoming a leitmotiv.

In extract (3) DOR reflects on the fact that the people she associates herself with never had any English friends. In this extract DOR tries to excuse this by highlighting her family circumstances: her husband was Viennese too, and so were her parents, who joined her after World War II. The only exception to the German cultural surroundings she chose for herself was her daughter and - later on - her grandson, who she had to converse with in her non-native language. But the pressure was clearly not one-sided (compare extract 4): VIV also forced her grandparents to learn English by highlighting a reason DOR may have been quite happy to block out/ignore: the whole family was living in England.

Extract (5) is an interesting development of DOR's previous statements. In the first utterance she seems to merely repeat the fact that she never socialised with "real" English people. But the reasons given for this prevalence differ from the ones given in extract (4). She no longer presents her family circumstances as an "excuse" for never having mingled with "real" English people. She now admits to having had the choice, be it one that she never took up herself. DOR then proceeds to explaining why she chose not to socialise with English people: because one feels more at ease with one's own people. And after the rather abstract reasons of sharing a language and a mentality (which in another abstract she translates into (Welt)anschauung), she then give concrete examples. And it is food and drink that feature quite prominently again in this explanation: the consumption of coffee is not purely a Starbucks event, it is also cultural, and for Viennese people it involves a considerable amount of time. After the shared laughter of cultural understanding between the interviewer and the interviewee, DOR first seems to return to cultural differences between her fellow Austrians and English people and produces a false start. She then re-focuses and highlights the cultural similarities with 'her own people' instead. After drawing attention to the continuity in an individual's development, she returns to the abandoned sentence by stressing the main point, i.e. that one does not have so much in common with the English people.

Extract (6) speaks for itself but I find it amazing how self-aware and affirmative DOR is of her bohemian existence in her host country.

What becomes obvious from the six extracts discussed so far is that DOR never felt at home in the United Kingdom and mainly socialised with fellow-refugees from Vienna. Her daughter, on the other hand, is ashamed of her "foreign" parents", hides her own cultural and linguistic background and - as we shall see later - tries to over-assimilate, or - in other words- be more British than the British.

Extract (7) contrasts sharply with extract (6), both in message content and speech production. In extract (6) DOR's minimal responses underline the message content. Her initial response to her daughter's statement (that home is still Austria for her) is even produced in her mother tongue: ja, I still talk of home as Austria, and yes, it is sad, but we all do. VIV's life-long personal struggle to accept the "foreignness" of her parents, on the other hand, is highlighted by the way she produced utterance (7). The hesitation pause and the repetition of of indicate that VIV is finding it hard to get the last and crucial bit of the message content out. She takes a run-up to what she seemingly still struggles with: I am of foreign stock. Extract (7) just illustrates the point further. At a place where VIV is perceived as a "native" English person who fits in with very well spoken English people, a colleague who calls her mother a "foreign" lady reminds her that she herself is of foreign stock.

On a purely linguistic level we see that DOR clearly intends to speak German to EVA. Half a century of exposure to the host language culture, however, render pure L1 language production difficult for her. Quite a few clause initial discourse markers are English, compare and, because; and so are fillers, compare you know, and the English lexical items for certain concepts clearly reach threshold level before their German equivalents, compare mentality and idea. DOR also starts clauses in English and then translates or corrects herself in her mother tongue, compare we enjoy [//] wir gehen gerne and wir haben different +//. die selben [%pho: idea-en].

None of the English words DOR uses in the extensive extracts quoted so far, furthermore, express realities pertaining to English culture, i.e. they are not culture specific items or cultural borrowings. They mainly seem to be manifestations of L1 language production difficulties. Similarly, when DOR translates herself into German, this is not in order to ease communication or to enhance cross-cultural relations. She simply tries to maintain a monolingual German mode of interaction and 'repairs' her digressions into L2.

When we move on to the other speaker so far quoted, DOR's daughter VIV, we see that DOR seems to have completely internalised what she explains to EVA at the end of extract (3), i.e. that she has to speak English with her daughter and her grandson. When VIV joins DOR and EVA, DOR immediately switches to English. VIV herself gives no indication of being able, or willing, to speak German: she uses exactly 5 German words in approximately half an hour of conversation, three of them are Mutti and Mama (the other two are und).

I will now move on to the central example of this paper in which the tension between the non-assimilated DOR and her assimilated daughter VIV becomes obvious. The third generation, VIV's son NIC, gets caught between his grandmother's and his mother's cultural values.


4. Der Würstelstand

Having set the scene, I will now discuss an extract that contains a clear example of a cultural borrowing, which later on triggers code-mixing and translation. The domain affected by language and culture contact in this extract is typically Austrian and already cropped up several times in the data: food or rather the "culture of food consumption" (Arlt, 2000). Newmark (1988: 97) notes that "food is for many the most sensitive and important expression of national culture".

DOR stresses several times during the recording, how important it would be to her to convey some of her linguistic and cultural heritage to her only grandson NIC. Since this was not passed on from one generation to the next, DOR tries to facilitate NIC's interest in her home culture by taking him to Austria for a holiday herself. This is when the tension between the first (DOR) and the second generation (VIV) gets verbalised most clearly. For VIV very good English and very good (English) manners are of utmost importance. NIC, i.e. the third generation, gets caught in the language and culture conflict between his mother and his grandmother on return from his trip to Austria.


*DOR: we went, you know [//] we went to Salzburg and the(re) [?] (de)n Würstelstand.

hot-dog stand

*DOR: so I said +"/.

*DOR: +" Nicolas you have to eat it with der hand, because das schmeckt ganz anders.

the fingers that tastes very differently

*DOR: das muss man mit der hand essen.

one has to eat it [the sausage] with ones fingers

*DOR: es schmeckt ganz anders.

it tastes very differently

*DOR: so wie er nach haus gekommen is(t), hat er (e)s in die hand genommen .

so when he came back home, he ate it [the sausage] with his fingers

*DOR: sagt die Vivien +"/.

Vivien says

*DOR: +" what are you doing?

*DOR: sagt er +"/.

He [NIC] says

*DOR: +"es schmeckt ganz anders.

it tastes very differently

@Activities: EVA and DOR laughing

*VIV: xxx tragedy xxx you know xxx.

*VIV: you know,, all the things I was trying to do xxx good manners.

The first borrowed term in an initially entirely English narrative cannot really be avoided, as it is the Austrian place-name Salzburg. For the second borrowing Würstelstand the English language has an American term that roughly covers the concept, i.e. hot-dog stand. For DOR this term does not appropriately express the reality pertaining to her Austrian culture, and she therefore borrows the German lexical item Würstelstand in her narrative. Discussing the notion of 'culture focus', Newmark (1988: 94) notes that "when a speech community focuses its attention on a particular topic, it spawns a plethora of words to designate its special language or terminology". Among the illustrating examples he gives are the English on sport, the Eskimos on snow and the Germans on sausage. Although this observation is slightly stereotypical, it has got a large element of truth in it.

Borrowing Würstelstand may also be intended as an indicator for the other cultural in-group member in the audience (EVA). At this particular venue, there is only one culturally appropriate way of consuming the item of food under discussion, i.e Wurst 'sausage' and that is with der Hand 'with the hand', i.e. with ones fingers. Würstelstand thus functions as a 'proper-name allusion' (Leppihalme 1997: 3), i.e. it presupposes receiver participation. The full cultural meaning of an utterance can only be understood, if the use of a name evokes the referent and some characteristic feature linked to the name. Leppihalme (1997: 3) observes that certain allusions "presuppose familiarity with esoteric sources and are recognised by a small minority of receivers only". The characteristic feature, in this case, is that Austrians and Germans eat sausages with their fingers at a Würstelstand and the receiver familiar with this cultural practise in the setting under discussion is EVA. DOR thus indirectly divides her audience into cultural and linguistics in- and out-group members: herself and EVA are in-group members and her daughter (VI) and her grandson (NIC) are out-group members.

Moving on in the extract, we observe how the two borrowings consequently trigger frequent intra-sentential code mixing. The reason why it is important to stick to the Austrian culture of food consumption in this case is already given in an almost entirely German clause, apart from the English conjunction because das schmeck ganz anders 'that tastes completely differently'. The logic behind this reasoning may not be immediately transparent to non-Austrians, but for cultural in-group members any other way of consuming sausage at a Wüstelstand is "weird" or culturally marked.

DOR obviously enjoys telling this story and repeats the entire previous utterance, which also constitutes the peak of the narrative, translated entirely into German. As if to heighten the language and culture conflict between herself and her daughter, DOR switches back to English to quote VIV's shocked reaction to her son's newly acquired Austrian manners. We cannot be sure that both direct quotes towards the end of this story are reproduced in the original language. As Gumperz (1982: 75-84) points out, this is not the point about switched direct quotations; it is the contrast between "we" and "they" codes that is important. DOR quotes her own daughter in the "they" code, i.e. the code that is associated with public interactions and more formal and less personal out-group relations (Gumperz 1982: 66). DOR's grandson NIC, on the other hand, gets quoted in the "we" code, i.e. the language that is associated with in-group and informal activities (e.g. home and family). The bilingual's two codes "directly reflect or signal the contrasting cultural styles and standards which the bilinguals encounter in daily interaction" (Gumperz 1982: 66). By her choice of languages to represent individuals, DOR highlights the fact that her daughter has a different cultural style and excludes VIV from the cultural in-group in this particular instance.

We do have non-verbal support for this interpretation in the transcriber's note on ongoing activities at the time. Although there are four people present at that particular point in the recording, namely DOR, VIV, NIC and EVA, it is only DOR and EVA that are laughing. Shared laughter can be equally as exclusive as the use of "we" and "they" codes to quote speakers. VIV's final two utterances are almost drowned out in DOR and EVA's laughter, but we do know that, firstly, they are clearly in English, and secondly, that VIV interprets her mother's acculturation exercises with her son as unwelcome interference with her own educational goals: to eliminate any "foreignness" that may still be lingering around in the family and to bring her son up as a well spoken and well mannered Englishman.

Before I move onto the next example I would like to make a brief digression into the borrowing history of Würstelstand. This borrowing did not enter monolingual English because it is used by the German-speaking Jewish refugees living in London. Another more recent cultural influence, however, drastically increased the frequency of use of this lexical item by monolingual speakers of English, especially at this time of the year. Since the English culture readily adopted German and Austrian Weihnachtsmärkte 'Christmas-markets', the concept and lexical item Würstelstand has found its place in the English language.

To move on from this example, where realities pertaining to one culture remain alien to the next generation of immigrants, I will now discuss an example, where cultural borrowing works in the opposite direction, i.e. an English linguistic element is used to express a reality in German, and does so in a completely different setting and a different domain.


5. Toy-boy

In Extract (10) DOR is not with her family but playing a game of cards with three friends, all of whom are also first generation Jewish refugees from Vienna. Apart from EVA, they are all between 67 and 75 years of age. I give a bit more context this time to illustrate that for this group of speakers code mixing functions as a discourse mode. They switch freely between English and German and individual switches do not necessarily serve a specific function. The English borrowing in the last utterance, however, clearly expresses a reality pertaining to another culture and, one would assume, also to another generation.


@Activities: TRU puts the phone down

*TRU: this was my son.

*EVA: I almost guessed, when you asked him, whether you should cook something.

*DOR: that (i)s right.

*EVA: the usual question +...

*TRU: could be my boyfriend +...

*DOR: na [: nein] da kochst du net [: nicht].

no, then you would not cook

*TRU: I might +...

*DOR: xxx der wuerd(e) dich voellig ausnehmen.

he would completely use you

*TRU: ja?

*DOR: I-'m sure.

*TRU: da muss ich ihn zuerst aber haben ,, nicht?

but I'd have to have one [boy-friend] first

*DOR: na des [: das] is(t) a [:eine] ander sache.

well, that's a different issue

*DOR: xxx und wenn man schon einen hat, muss man ihn zahlen xxx.

and if one has one, one has to pay him

*TRU: a [? ein] toy+boy # na [: nein] des [: das] brauch(e) ich net [: nicht].

no, that/him I don't need.

*DOR: na [: nein].

This example is particularly interesting as it illustrates a phenomenon Newmark (1988: 95) calls "a cultural deposit" in the grammar: grammatical gender of nouns. This linguistic practise affects all English nouns that get borrowed into German; they get assigned to one of the three grammatical genders of German. Toy-boy clearly denotes a male human being and should thus be assigned to masculine gender according to natural gender assignment rules, which otherwise hold categorically in the corpus. The determiner a could either be English or the dialectal Bavarian version of the indefinite article a [? ein]. Either way it does not unequivocally determine the gender of toy-boy. Evidence that this English borrowing gets assigned to the neuter gender comes from the demonstrative pronoun das, which can only agree with neuter nouns.

There are two possible explanations for this unusual gender assignment. Firstly, there are cases in which natural gender assignment may be affected by pragmatic factors. Gender can be pragmatically used to downgrade humans in both English (Corbett 1991) and German (Köpcke & Zubin 1996). In English (Corbett 1991: 12), the third person singular neuter pronoun it can be employed to downgrade humans. In German derogatory terms for men are frequently female (cf. die Tunte, die Schwuchtel, die Memme) and pejorative words for women are neuter (cf. das Weib, das Frauenzimmer). In the above example semantic gender assignment rules may have been overridden by emotive and affective factors and in a variation of the German principle towards English usage, speaker TRU may have assigned neuter gender to toy-boy.

Another factor may contribute to speaker TRU pragmatically flouting the strongest semantic rule for gender assignment, i.e. male humans are masculine. As in English, where this indicates relative closeness to the speaker and that indicates relative distance (Huddleston & Pullum 2002: 373), das can also be used in German to distance oneself from something. TRU subjectively rejects the idea of a toy-boy and may indicate this by anaphorically referring to toy-boy as das.

This exceptional case of gender assignment may therefore be motivated by both the speaker's desire to distance herself from an idea of having a toy-boy, and secondly, by her wish to downgrade the referent by assigning neuter gender to it.


6. Ein Herr Direktor

So far I have only discussed data from DOR, her family and her friends. DOR, however, lives in a very close-knot network, which is part of the overall speech community. In the network code-mixing functions as a discourse mode and changes in language are so frequent that they are not even noticed by the participants. The situation in the wider Jewish refugee community is slightly different. They also mix frequently when with friends, but use borrowing much more to convey the culturally most apt expressions, i.e as mot justes.

The informant who produces the following mot just immigrated on a so-called "Kindertransport" (Children's Transport) and was therefore a lot younger when she arrived in the United Kingdom than DOR and her friends. She is married to an Englishman and also otherwise fully integrated in UK mainstream society. For her, her bilingualism and bi-culturalism are assets she can draw on when appropriate.


You know, in those days in Vienna - it probably still is a little bit like that now - in order to be accepted, and be somebody, it was good if you looked like ein Herr Direktor, you know. If you went into a restaurant and looked like that, you got the best seat... (GOLD)

Apart from the fact that this speaker carefully selected this expression to communicate a concept from the Viennese language and culture across to a different culture, we also see that she does this in a quite different manner to the speakers in the close-knit network of refugees. She incorporates a full noun phrase and not just a single noun into her English utterance. The borrowed phrase is also culture specific in a different way: in English the most formal address term is a combination of title and last name. The combination title Herr ‚Mr' + title Direktor ‚director' is not used in British and American English and implies a deference that is unknown in an Anglo-American cultural context.


7. Translation

Translation is not very prominent is my corpus, as the first generation of Jewish refugees from Vienna is fully bilingual. The group recordings of DOR and her three friends, however, do contain an example where translation is clearly meant to ease communication. Funny enough it goes completely wrong. LIL sets out to tell her friends a story about her charwoman when she realises that EVA, who is a lot younger and has spent much less time in the UK than the other speakers, may not be familiar with this term. She offers to translate, but uses another English word for the same concept instead, as her sister points out to her, to the great amusement of everybody. LIL then starts searching her bilingual lexicon for an appropriate German translation. The first one she finds is one that is only used in German German. MEL does not find it culturally appropriate and eventually supplies the unmarked Viennese term for charwoman, Bedienerin. Extract (12) thus illustrates translation from English into German, and then another intra-language translation from German Germans into Austrian, or more specifically, Viennese German.


*LIL: my charwoman [/-] you know what a charwoman 0is?

*LIL: 0 [//] a cleaner +/.

*TRU: cleaner # charwoman # is(t) beides Englisch +...

*LIL: oh yes.

@Activities: laughter

*LIL: die aufwartefrau, wie die deutschen sagen.

*MEL: bedienerin .

*LIL: +, comes Tuesdays and Fridays.


8. Conclusion

I have shown in this paper that borrowing individuals belonging to the speech community under investigation, i.e. German-speaking Jewish refugees from Vienna living in NW London, use code mixing and translation differently and for different purposes. Members of the first generation, whose social contacts are limited to other members of the same community, use code mixing as a discourse mode. In this bilingual mode of interaction, borrowings are not necessarily words denoting culture-specific concepts, but words that are lexically and phonologically similar in both languages but differ in their semantics, are chosen from the appropriate language, where they have the desired meaning (see bohemian). In this close-knit network, code-switches also do not necessarily serve a particular function. German and English, however, are used to signify the contrasting cultural styles and standards, which the bilinguals encounter in daily interaction, i.e. as 'we' and 'they' codes. In the Würstelstand example, the central informant DOR to exclude her own daughter, who is fully assimilated to the host-culture, from the cultural in-group, uses this dichotomy. Despite the strong affinity speaker DOR and her friends still feel with the Viennese culture and the German language, they are bilingual and bicultural enough to use English borrowings in the appropriate way. This was illustrated in the examples of continental and toy-boy. More assimilated representatives of the first generation use borrowings and set expressions like ein Herr Direktor to express realities pertaining to one culture only. Translation is a tool for easing communication and enhancing cross-cultural relations. In this community it is used to convey concepts and ideas to people who are not perceived to be bilingual and bicultural. For DOR and her friend, however, the boundaries between English and German are more blurred after half a century of language and culture contact than the boundaries between German German and the Viennese dialect, as we saw in the charwoman example.

© Eva Eppler (University of Surrey Roehampton)

Appendix - Transcription Conventions 
 +... .... trailing off         +^ .... . quick uptake 
 +" ...... quotation follows    +, ...... self-completion
 [//] .... retracing            [/-] .... false start 
 xxx ..... unintelligible speech # ...... pause 


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7.1. Entlehnung und Übersetzung am Kreuzweg von Sprache und kulturellem Kontakt

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For quotation purposes:
Eva Eppler (University of Surrey Roehampton): Unifying and Dividing Aspects of Culture: Borrowing and Translation among Viennese Jewish Refugees in London. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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