The Monkey Princess (stellanova) wrote,
The Monkey Princess

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bitte sprechen Sie doch langsam; ich bin Auslanderin

So, one of the many reasons I wanted to go back to Berlin - besides the presence of my old chum glitzfrau and the fact that I've wanted to go back ever since I spent the summer of 1995 there - is the fact that, of all the non-English speaking European countries, it's the only one where I speak the language. My German is obviously very rusty, but I can still read German magazines and newspapers without much effort and without any dictionary-usage. The thing is, the speaking part isn't so great. My spoken German was always pretty bad, basically because I never spent enough time there - during my several months in Berlin, we barely spoke any Deutsch at all because all the nice Germans we met just wanted to practice their English on us. And because for some freakish reason the head of the German department loved me, she let me do German in fourth year (in Trinity, most arts students do two subjects for three years and then major in one for the last year) without the year abroad which was usually de rigeur. I didn't actually know this until I heard of other people who'd wanted to major in German and were coldly told that unless they spent a year in Heidelburg as a teaching assistant they wouldn't be allowed do so. So of course I ended up in a fourth year class full of people who'd all spent at least a full year speaking constant Deutsch, which intimidated me so much that I spoke even less Deutsch than ever before.

And there you have it. The only thing is, the crapness of my spoken German is purely a result of self consciousness and not, up to a point, of vocabulary. Which is why, when I'm drunk or terrified (see my famous story of nearly getting thrown off a train in the middle of the recently-East Germany for non payment of fare while on my way to catch a plane on the other side of the country), my spoken German is grand. However, unless I spend my entire week there in a drunken haze (which I may very well, if La Glitz leads us astray into suitably Brecht/Weillian intellecto-glamour), I shall be too paralysed to speak and so my linguistic competence will be meaningless. Well, apart from being able to understand directions. And menus. And more or less everything people say to me. Actually, maybe it's not so meaningless after all....
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