I helgen gick den sydafrikanske författaren André Brink ur tiden 79 år gammal. Undertecknad inledde en kort brevväxling med skribenten 1997. Detta efter att ha läst Brinks roman A dry white season, En torr vit årstid på svenska. Jag förmodar att det sistnämnda är titeln på den svenska utgåvan. Jag skickade mitt brev till University of Cape Town, där André Brink undervisade. Nedan följer det första brevet till honom, av nödvändighet på engelska. Hav i åtanke att jag blandar amerikansk, australisk och sydafrikansk engelska i min text. Vid tillfälle ska jag återge förklaringar till min vokabulär.
Ålem January 3, 1997
Firstly, I´d better introduce myself ; my name´s Stanley Lindström and I´m a thirtythree-year old ou from Sweden.
As a kid little me used to play hookey from school with devastating effects on my learning, but amazingly enough I did manage to acquire some knowledge of English simply by watching the telly and reading American comic books. With this in mind, I do apologise for my exiguous linguistic abilities in handling the language beforehand. It could most certainly be better.
As is, good grammar and a large vocabulary ain´t my pièce de résistance, but yours truly is busy learning. Hopefully you can find it in your ticker to have forebearance with me for not being a fundi in English.
Why is this letter being indited? Well, the answer is a very simple one. Presently I´m trying to teach myself the Taal by use of Hodder and Stoughton´s book Teach yourself Afrikaans, which in fact is the only publication available in the Taal in Swedish bookstores. A blerry shame, isn´t it?
(In case you´re wondering ; no, there are no Afrikaans courses at the unis in my country.)
As it happens, sommer as I was visiting an English teacher that I´m acquainted with one arvey two months ago, the sheila handed me a copy of your volume A dry white season, because she knew that I´m acutely interested in everything that´s got to do with South Africa.
(Also the chalkie needed a tad bit of help concerning some of the words in your work. Around the English schoolies here in my municipality I´m considered as somewhat of an "unofficial" expert in different varietes of worldwide English. That´s what you get for being an autodidact...Be that as it may, I do sorely lack a dictionary of SAfrE, believe you me.)
Needless to say, I began reading it right off the bat as soon as I was by the house, but was yours truly ever in for a surprise! While perusing your work little me chanced upon a swag of vocables
I´ve never seen before, and thus it´d be extremely lekker if you could take the time to answer a few questions for me. ( Incidentally, my copy was published by Flamingo in paperback 1984, and has the ISBN-number 0-00-654014-7.)
To start with, the following locutions - which I presume belong to Tsotsi- / Flytaal - have to some extent left me not knowing whether it´s Pitt Street or Palm Sunday ;
page 41 blackjacks cops?
53 lanie Caucasian?
80 pasa kill? stab with a knife?
84 atshitsi booze?
85 kieries ?
87 roerie guluva hoodlum?
93 morena ?
113 meid girl?
178 jampas hands on a watch?
180 mugu ?
182 moered beaten to a pulp?
252 stokvel a non-stop party?
I. Does there exist any Flytaal wordbook? If it does, could you please provide me with an address to the publisher?
II. On page 18 you used rusticating and semester in the same sentence. Is it practice in SA to mix BrE and AmE school-vocabulary?
III. On page 84 you wrote "You´re on the spot, man". Does this actually mean "You´re at the speak-easy" or simply "You´re at the place where action is"?
IV. On page 216 you utilised the word chooky, which I always have regarded as Anglo-Indian slang. Is this vocable integrated in SAfrE nowadays?
V. And finally, the last question,. Is there any magazine or periodical printed in Afrikaans that deals with "taal- en letterkunde"? If so, could you please scribble down the address to it?
Before I sign off, happen I ought to tell you that I´ve tried to place orders for books in Afrikaans, but alas, these attempts have failed miserably. It´s a no can do with Swedish bookstores since they´ve never imported anything from SA.
As a matter of fact, most Swedes don´t even know that a Germanic language named Afrikaans exists, which became painfully evident on December 28 when a Swedish TV channel broadcasted the movie based on your book, although I personally got a good laugh out of it ; the translator spelled mevrou as mefrau in the subtitles...
Well, that was all. I do hope you can help me with these questions.
With best wishes. Sincerely, Stanley Lindström.