German Intensive Course: Week 2

It’s been two weeks so far of intense early morning classes of German and I have to say I’m feeling pretty good. As daunting as it is to bring myself from a deep slumber at 6am every morning, the feeling I get walking around the city at 10am after class knowing I’ve already smashed out 2 hours of German study is pretty good. The weather in Vienna is getting very nice and sunny too which makes it all the more better 🙂

So, how have the classes been?

Well, once again I’ve managed to be the only ‘native’ English speaker in the class. It’s not that uncommon, there’s normally a token American or Canadian around. But somehow it always ends up just being me. Not that it’s a bad thing. Pretty much everyone can speak English quite well anyway. But there’s some kind of awe about being a native speaker. You’re like sacred or something. My teacher finds this fascinating . We are all at the level where we don’t speak any English in class, but occasionally we need to translate a word if no one has any idea,  and the teacher always looks at me.

“How do you call this in English Jack?”

Most of the time I’m quick to answer. I nod along as she uses gestures and short stories to try and explain the word using the German vocabulary that she know’s we all have, and I tend to pick up on what she’s referring to after a while. This time the German word was rücksichtslos. She had tried to tell a story of a guy in a car cutting you off, and then tried to explain the opposite being rücksichts by talking about what a mother would say to her children if they are annoying their father after he had just come home from work. Looking back, these two stories don’t quite work as opposites, yet they did still make sense… Hmm thus is language studies.

So anyway I replied, “Disrespectful”.

Immediately she shook her head, “No.”

Damn, I was sure that was right, I thought. Well I was. Kind of. Funnily enough this wasn’t the first time I knew the direct translation yet received a ‘no’ from the teacher. I realized that it wasn’t always my lack of German, but sometimes the teachers lack of English. Although disrespectful kind of works, a better translation for rücksichtslos would be reckless and the opposite, in the story of the father and child context, “considerate”. But when you think about it, disrespectful still works…

Anyway, then she said to me, “Isn’t it respectless not disrespectful?”

One would think right? Well sometimes its a good reality check that when I sit back and condemn German for all its annoying little tidbits, English is just as annoying at the same time.

And to tell you what, German isn’t all that bad. In fact I find it to be a very literal language. If you just describe something in literal detail, sometimes it just works out. Well that or just say an English word with a German accent. That sometimes works out too…

 

For some fun here are some very literal German words that I love:

Headphones: kopfhörer (literally head listener)

Wednesday: Mittwoch (literally middle week) [Why not right?]

Slug: Nacktschneke (literally naked snail)

Pubic Hair: schamhaar (literally shame hair) [We should all be ashamed]

Gloves: Handshuhe (literally hand shoes) [Classic!]

 

And my all time favorite:

Nipple: Brustwarze (Literally, yep you guessed it, breast wart)

 

There are plenty more, I even stumbled upon this little quiz you can take http://www.sporcle.com/games/nnneeennn/literal-german-translations. It’s kind of fun, even if you don’t know German you can do it. It’s all about thinking laterally, thinking like the Germans…

See you next week for week three. Remember to hit subscribe on the right if you don’t want to miss out on the awesome antics of an Aussie, in Austria, learning German. Catch ya.

 

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Posted on April 21, 2013, in Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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