Home Language: A Collection of Short Stories

Open Access
Cooperstein, Paige Elizabeth
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Charlotte Amalie Holmes, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Jon Olson, Faculty Reader
  • Fiction
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Language
  • Latin
  • Short Stories
  • Spanish
As a fictional collection of short stories, Home Language interests itself with other languages’ interference with English. The collection focuses on families who exhibit a cultural reason to maintain a language other than English at home, or on a linguistic interaction between a character who speaks English and another language group. “Qué Será” founds my collection. This story examines the family life of a high school aged girl. Her family life divides itself between her actual home life and her pseudo home life at the Tex-Mex restaurant where she works, thus incorporating an examination of Spanish and English. “Schatzi” looks at a German American family settled in Wisconsin, incorporating an examination of German and English. The story primarily seeks to resolve the image of Midwestern German-American alcoholic excess. In “Shiksa,” a girl brought up in a traditional Jewish household with its amalgamation of Yiddish is convinced that Jewish men prefer more secularized and Americanized women over Jewish women. She pretends to be Christian in order to catch a Jewish man who might otherwise “marry out.” The story confronts cultural assumptions and intimate betrayal in that framework. Finally, the story “Discipulae” blends Latin and English from the perspective of a Latin teacher. In the vein of the Greek and Roman tragedy, “Discipulae,” focuses on betrayal amongst friends and lovers. Analogous to Latin’s status as a dead language, the story traces a trajectory of obsolescence with respect to personal relationships.