Saturday, January 16, 2010

Du Strubbel

From Carl (Charles) Sandburg [his autobiography], Always the Young Strangers (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1953), pp. 92-93, recalling his Swedish immigrant parents—

Early the mother pronounced it "Sholly," which later become "Sharlie" and still later the correct "Charlie," while the Old Man stuck to "Sholly, do dat." She learned to pronounce "is" as "iz" and "has" as "haz" while with him it stayed "iss" and "hass." He said "de" for "the," "wenlup" for "envelope," "Hotty do" for "How do you do?," "yelly clay" for "yellow clay," "rellroad" for "railroad," "Gilsburg" for "Galesburg," "Sveden" for "Sweden," "helty" for "healthy." …Anyone who couldn't get what he was saying was either dumb or not listening. He invented a phrase of his own for scolding Mart and me. When he said, "Du strubbel," we knew he meant "You stupid" and he was probably correct. He would impress us about a scheme he believed impossible to work out, "You could not do dat if you wass de Czar of all de Russias."