Friday, December 3, 2010

Language schmanguage

First off, I would like someone to explain to me why there are dance clubs open in Saarbrücken on a Thursday night until the wee hours of the morning. Really? It is Thursday! I feel like my old age is finally catching up to me, and not being the young lass I once was, staying out and partying until the sun comes up on a school night is kicking my ass. Ah, remember when we were all once young and had livers like champion Deutsch beer drinkers? Yeah, those days are long gone.

Yesterday was one of those shitty German speaking days, and I felt like I only understood about 20% of what was going on around me. See, I have good days and I have bad days. On the good days, I feel like I am finally understanding German: when people talk to me, I know exactly (okay, sort of) what they are saying, and I can answer with some degree of certainty. On the bad days, though. Ugh. I just want to stay in my room and watch "Glee" in English and drink hot chocolate. People start talking and I follow for about 10 seconds before I stare past them up at the sky. "Oh look, a bird." And then comes the moment of truth when there is a slight rise in the other persons voice at the end of their sentence, indicating that I am supposed to say something. That is about the point where I get that dumbfounded look on my face (you know, the one ADD kids get when they have just been caught with their faces plastered against the windows staring at God only knows what) and ask "Was"? And I love the question "Verstehst du"? Yeah, nein. Not at all. This seemed to happen on a fairly consistent basis yesterday.

But I realized something talking (playing charades) with Estelle: I have been accused of being lazy for not speaking more German here, but it is not because I am lazy. It is because I am embarrassed (well, okay, I am slightly lazy, but come on. Sometimes a good ol English quip really drives the point home). Estelle told me she doesn't speak English much because she thinks she sounds bad. Christ, I KNOW I sound like shit when I speak German, so I opt to take the easy road and speak English. Because I get embarrassed. Because I hate it when I talk and people cannot understand me. It is very frustrating to be THIS old and have the communication skills of a three year old. It is even worse when people get annoyed or impatient or what have you because then YOU feel like sheiße. I only speak German around Estelle, I guess mainly because yeah, she does not speak English, but also because somehow, she understands me, and I don't feel like a giant asshole when I talk. Fuck, I am surprised she understands me at all. Even though sentences feel backwards to me, I am sure me translating a sentence from English to German and using the English construct of that sentence is fucking ridiculous to the Germans. Why cant German be like Spanish???

But it is easy for me to forget that I am not the only person in the world that is having this problem. I am not the first person to feel like an ass when I speak another language. THIS is not my native language! Lord, it feels more times than not that it is not even close to English! If I could be fluent in a language after three months, I would move to a new country four times a year.

Oh, also, I switched my keyboard from English to German so I could type the umlauts with more ease. But fuck if I can find the apostrophe key now. So I don't want any of you to think that I am making grammatical errors. I never make grammatical errors (haha). I just cant find the fucking key, and spellcheck does not always catch it.

Okay, I am off to pack. We are going to Nuremberg today. I am pretty damn stoked about this!

No comments:

Post a Comment