Samstag, 18. Oktober 2008
On the border of Switzerland and German, lies the town of Stein am Rhein (stone on the river Rhein). Last year they celebrated the anniversary of No E Willi.
This phrase, I understood, in it's historical context, when I first heard it. Due to it's precarious position, the walled in and gated city had a system of security during the second World War. (Or was it the first?) Anyway, in the night, when a towns person on guard would see another they would ask a question, to which the code answer was "No E Willi". (As you can see, I don't remember the particulars of the story. I do remember that the town was bombed by the Allies.
Last week, I read Der Letzte Weynfeld. I didn't need my dictionary as much as I thought I would, but I needed to ask Ivo about weird phrases. "She was the width of his collar", for example. I heard a podcast with a linguist who was talking about politicians and public officials affecting accents and dialects to help people feel included when they are addressed. Meanwhile, I experience, more regularly, exclusion due to accents and dialects. In the mountains, with Reta-Romansh, from canton to canton with different dialects and idioms.
I have no idea why, but the phrase "No E Willi" popped into my head, today at the gym. I totally got it. "No E Willi": a little while more. What better way to figure out who does not belong, then to use a phrase that someone who does not belong in German-Switzerland, would never know.