Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Germans

For the past eight months I have lived with two German girls (commonly referred to as "the Germans").  They look like this:

Prior to this experience, a German to me was somebody who was always on time and never laughed at my jokes.  But now I know that Germans can be so much more than that.  For instance, Germans can be late and they can also laugh at my jokes.  

I found out that speaking German is relatively easy too.  You just turn your v’s into w’s, and wice wersa, put on a German accent, and you’re away laughing.    
For example, Volkswagon is pronounced ‘Woltsvagon’.  It’s basically back-to-front English.
However, like any language, you have to be prepared to make mistakes.
For instance, when we first started living together (but before I had learnt how to speak German properly) I only had a few German words up my sleeve.  So as my flatmates were leaving the house one day, I called “achtung!” cheerfully after them (this means “attention!”, but if you say it in a friendly tone I like to think it also communicates something like “farewell!” or “hello!” or even, “yes please!”).  They looked a bit confused.  
“Is this Japanese?” one of them asked (I can speak Japanese too, you see).  I must say I felt indignant.  It was then I learnt that you have to put on an accent when you speak German.  

As we got to know each other, I built rapport by striking up conversations about things that Germans like.  We talked extensively about apple strudel.  And because I know that Germans respond to directness, I asked if they could make me some for my birthday.  They did.  I found out afterwards it was the first time they’d ever made apple strudel.  I was shocked!  What do they do on Sunday afternoons if not bake apple strudel in a well-insulated kitchen that smells like cinnamon?  
Germans are full of surprises.

Living with the Germans has been wunderbar (that means ‘wonderful’, don’t forget that ‘v’ sound). Every now and then I tell them how much I like Germans.  Sometimes they ask me to start calling them by their actual names, but I think that’s just a German way of brushing off a compliment.

(Achtung Annika!  Ich vermisse dich!)

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