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8 June 2011 / leggypeggy

What language barrier?

I’ve had a great time massacring the German language this month — and I’m getting better and better at it, or worse and worse. Depends on your point of view. I must admit that I studied German in high school (junior high too). My junior high years of language study were a very long time ago and were very much better than the years in high school. In fact, in junior high (years 7–9) I learned so much German and in the old script. Even now not many Germans learn that script — except for ß (the scharfes s). But sadly, I have rarely used the language. As a result, it is buried under 40 years of less useful information.

But being in Germany is bringing it back. I can’t really string together too many sentences, but I manage. Why doesn’t school put more emphasis on verbs? I can remember heaps of nouns, prepositions and adverbs, but where are the verbs?

I remember ‘to know’, ‘to go’, ‘to live’, ‘to want’, ‘to buy’ and a few others, and mostly in the present tense. Clearly that means I never ‘knew’ anything or ‘went’ anywhere. No doubt, Poor John is relieved that I never ‘bought’ anything.

But I outdid myself tonight. In fact, Maren and I outdid ourselves.

We returned to Berlin from Hamburg. Our host, Lutz, speaker of many languages, stayed on in Hamburg (he’ll be back tomorrow). But his partner, Maren, was in Berlin. Maren is proficient in many languages, but has never really learned a lot of English. Tonight was our chance to shine.

Maren and Nora

Gosh we had fun. Our combo of English, French and German served us well. We managed to use all three in one sentence — frequently. I even taught her a useful expression in Arabic.

Have added a pic of Maren and her lovely daughter, Nora, who has visited the US briefly and acquired a very strong American accent.

One Comment

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  1. Louise M Oliver / Jun 10 2011 6:54 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    I’ll expect you to be fluent in at least two new languages by the time you arrive home! None of this, ‘I can sort of get by’ stuff. It’s great to see that you’re having such a wonderful time.

    Best wishes


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