The Language of Thieves

Martin Puchner

£16.99

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Granta Books
7 January 2021
ISBN: 9781783786404
Hardback

From the publisher

You might have heard the saying 'you're in a pickle' meaning you're in a difficult situation. This is just one example of Rotwelsch, an ancient language of the road influenced by Yiddish and written in rudimentary signs, and spoken by vagrants and refugees, merchants and thieves since the European Middle Ages. Martin Puchner grew up knowing that Rotwelsch was of unusual interest to his family. When he inherited a family achive, it led him on a journey not only into the history of this extraordinary language but also into his family's connections to the Nazi Party, for whom Rotwelsch held a particular significance. The Language of Thieves is a compelling story of the mindset and milieu of Central Europe and of the way language can be used to evade oppression. It is also a deeply moving reckoning with a family's buried past.