Lingua germanica

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Last week in Hamburg, I was one of the only non-native German speakers in the group of people I was associating with, and I felt really rather inadequate about my linguistic skills the whole time I was there.

This week in Berlin, I’m basically the only German speaker period (besides Jeremy) in the group of people I’m hanging out with, and I suddenly appreciate my linguistic knowledge a whole lot more—not least when we’re all in a restaurant with no English menus.

Also, after having traveled to France, Italy and Spain over the past few years and having felt extremely frustrated about my inability to communicate properly in any of those countries, it’s very nice to be back in a country where although they speak a foreign language, I can still make myself easily understood. Since I haven’t had to use my everyday German in such a long time, I’d forgotten what it feels like to slip into a language that’s not your own, but in which you still feel oddly comfortable. I even dreamed in German the other night, something which I haven’t done in ages.

It feels like a dormant part of my brain is waking up again, or like I’m tapping back into that “new soul” I acquired by learning a new language in the first place (as the Czech saying apparently goes). Whatever it is, it’s a very enjoyable feeling, and it makes me think I really need to put my German into action more often. After all, what’s the use of a half-dormant brain or a half-dead soul?

Comments

1

Hey, short-time listener (but probably to be long-term judging by the content), first time caller.

I also work as a DE>EN translator (I came upon your site by googling Fernweh & English to see if I could see if anyone had any better suggestions than mine - they didnt’. Try it yourself, you’re fourth hit down if memory serves)

My German is (comparatively speaking) awful, and it frustrates me too. I wish I’d have taken A-level teacher’s advice and "learnt the language on my back". Guess the German girls just didn’t fall for that one!

Anyways, keep up the good work and props for getting the "Lostintranslation" website before anyone else. Was that before or after the film?

2

Hi Colin, thanks for the message! Yeah "Fernweh" is a tricky one - one of those lovely, compact German words that packs an awful lot into just 7 letters. Maybe we should try to get "Fernweh" adopted into English usage like "Schadenfreude" or "Angst".

Oh, and I got the lostintranslation domain long before the movie - in 1999, in fact. And I got a lot of emails when the movie came out from people who had tried to find the movie site and stumbled across my site instead!

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