Sunday, October 24, 2010
The area of Central Texas where I live was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s as discussed previously in such posts as "Ancient History" (7/11/10). As documented here, these settlers and their descendants have developed their own language that is a slang combination of German and English. This Texas German dialect is a German equivalent of what has been loosely termed "Border Spanish", the slang mixture of Spanish and English commonly spoken in the region along the U.S. border with Mexico.
As I've mentioned before, locals were forbidden to speak their German dialect during the World War eras, which of course only forced it underground and made its use a focal point of local pride and clannishness. During Prohibition in particular, the local language was used as an "insider code" with regard to the smuggling of alcohol from Mexico, which was rampant here and utilized older local ties to Mexico.
Smuggling ties between the German immigrants of Central Texas and Mexicans have only increased since Prohibition ended because of the rise of illegal drug smuggling. The Texas German dialect is now used extensively in this area over the radio waves, during phone calls, on the Internet, and even while gossiping at the grocery store, feed store, barber shop, etc. to both send "coded" messages and discuss things local "insiders" don't want others to know they're talking about. (It's a common practice to do this while standing very close by someone they're bad-mouthing, for example, even though this practice occasionally gets them in trouble. I'd love to know just what it was that the professor in this article overheard in the restaurant that caught his interest!)
The common use of this language here for important conversations, particularly over scanners, radios, walkie-talkies, and cell phones, makes it imperative that anyone considering mounting a serious investigation of organized crime and stalking here include the use of German translators, particularly ones who have at least some knowledge of the local dialect. Any investigation begun without these translators will completely miss out on what's going on and is doomed to failure. Spanish translators are probably necessary here as well.
As an added note, anyone planning on coming here to carry out any kind of serious investigation must also be aware that local "insiders" routinely act as lookouts or spotters EVERYWHERE. All unknown persons, vehicles, and license plates coming into our area are routinely and thoroughly checked out by local law enforcement using their access to sophisticated federal equipment and data bases. (Please go back to "The Layer Cake", posted 4/13/10, for more information on this.) Anyone planning on coming here who wants locals to open up to them needs to have an airtight cover story and vehicles and license plates that won't attract attention or suspicion. (Even better is if you can show a family relationship to someone here.) Without taking these kind of precautions, you will be run out of town (or worse) the minute you start asking questions, taking photos in the wrong places, etc., and any equipment you bring will be confiscated or stolen.