Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ich spreche Deutsche

This week is week three of my German class, which runs through mid-December and is just another attempt at my lifelong dream of being multilingual.

Learning languages has never come easily to me. It's not like I haven't tried. Over the years I've put in a year of American Sign Language, half a year of ancient Greek, half a year of modern Greek, and five years of Spanish. But despite all the classes I wouldn't say that I really "know" anything besides English. I've never, for example, had a dream in another language, unless you count dreams where everyone is yelling at me in a language I don't understand. But in my heart I've always wanted to be the sophisticated person who steps in to help a lost tourist in their native tongue, or who knows how to call a foreign hotel and ask the rate without being transferred to the English-speaking staff member, or who -- why not -- can decode the inscription on that mysterious gold-platted goblet I find buried in a field. Instead, I'm the one translating for my husband that the poorly-sketched ex-con in Castle just said "something about a lawyer and ... eggs? It was either eggs or beefsteak. He was talking really fast."

And it's even worse because Greg is some kind of language savant. The other day when I showed him my German flashcards he got more right than I did. And he'd never seen the words before. It's just not fair. And of course he studied French, so when he tells me what the white collar scamp in the Woody Allen film just said it sounds really sexy and suggestive.

Still we use the tools we're given, so the best I can do is struggle to learn at my own pace. For the next three months I'll be the crazy woman on the T counting down from 10 to 1 like an over-enunciating Bond villain, or practicing my au's, ew's, and oo's in a way that makes the guy next to me get up and check his seat for gum. There's only one way to get to whatever's the German equivalent of Lincoln Center; Trainieren.

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