Okay, I don’t particularly enjoy the German language some days. You could say I’m a fair-weather friend. When people understand what I’m saying and I get the numbers right the first time I say how much I want to pay: “Fünf… oh, no, Vier.” Whoops.
I like it when it’s not in my face, when I can walk down the street with people who speak English and understand me easily then walk into the ice cream shop and order in German… then leave.
“Ein kugel Joghurt-kirsch und ein kugel Edelbitter Schoko.”
(Translation: one scoop cherry yogurt and one scoop dark chocolate)
I know. I’m pretty fancy.
When I was on the train to Switzerland two weekends ago, the only other lady in my compartment tried to converse with me. Bless her, she was so patient and knew to talk slowly so I could absorb at least part of what she said. I tried not to give her my half-glazed over, deer-in-the-headlights, really, really focused stare while my mouth hung partly open, but I don’t think I succeeded. We managed to navigate some details about our lives and trips, however.
Then we ran out of easy vocabulary for me to use and resorted to pointing out the window at the Alps and saying, “Sehr schön,” (very beautiful) every now and then and sighing with disappointment every time we went through a tunnel an had our view obscured.
If you ask Duolingo, I know 530 words. If you ask me, I only know like 50 words that I would actually use on a daily basis. And even though I might know how to ask certain important questions like, “How do you get to university?” I would have no idea what the response meant. Also, the Styrian (my region of Austria) dialect is quite hard to understand.
So, I just do my best.
Thank goodness I don’t have to know the language to walk or eat ice cream or breathe, though it’s helpful to be able to read street signs and ice cream flavors. I suppose not knowing the language well makes this even more of an adventure.