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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 ūüôā

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¬†r√ľcksichtslos. She had tried to tell a story of a guy in a car cutting you off, and then tried to explain the opposite being¬†r√ľcksichts¬†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 r√ľcksichtslos 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.

 

German Intensive Course: Week 1

When ever someone asks me how my German is I never really know how to respond. I am¬†definitely¬†not fluent, though friends keep wondering why I’m not. For anyone who’s actually learnt a language before they know, it takes a while! So here I am, two and a half years of learning German, and mind you I have spent most of that time in a German speaking country, yet if a German asks me whether I speak it or not, my reply is still ‘ein bisschen’¬†(a little).

Though I was saying ‘ein bisschen’¬†when the extent of my German was ‘zwei Bier, bitte’, ‘dankesch√∂n’ and ‘ich bin schwanger’ (you can¬†Google¬†that if you want. Don’t ask me why I knew that back then…)

I’d like to think I know a little more than ‘ein bisschen’ ¬†right now. But perhaps out of all the new words I’ve learnt I just haven’t quite learnt those few words to describe the extent of my German. Do I know a little, a little more than a little, am I pretty good, am I¬†OK¬† am I not bad… even in English nothing sounds very good. I mean I’ve met¬†travelers¬†who say they, ‘only speak a little¬†English’, then end up reciting¬†Ulysses¬†before my very eyes. I think it’s just a confidence thing. From the moment you start learning a language, until you can fool a native speaker to thinking you’re native, you’re probably just going to say ‘a little’.

Well the one good thing about doing a course is Europe has a nice little list of letters and numbers to help¬†describe¬†where you’re at. To people who don’t know the CEFR system, it doesn’t mean much, but to the rest, its a¬†beautiful¬†way of classifying us. I am currently B1/1 and will over the next 8 weeks be studying 10 hours a week to hopefully boost myself two levels to B1/2 then B2.

Having not been to a German class since last year, after going to my first few classes I¬†realized¬†that although my grasp of the language is pretty good, I make a hell of a lot of mistakes. I haven’t been using my reflexive pronouns very well, naughty, naughty e.g. ‘I myself am interested’ would be the correct phrase, not ‘I am interested’. Though¬†obviously¬†they both work in English. Typical. And secondly, my¬†articles¬†are down the toilet, just another awesome thing about the German language. What the hell is wrong with just ‘THE!’

I will hopefully keep you updated on the awesome new things I learn through the weeks.¬†Click the button on the right toolbar to follow me ūüôā

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