German is an angry-sounding language. You know it, I know it. When Austrians get together over dinner they generally start speaking in their very loud, angry voices.
I remember the first few times I had dinner with my now in-laws… I would sit quietly, eating my dinner, sipping my wine, just trying to stay in the background because I certainly didn’t want to get involved in whatever it was they were so mad about. Their heated conversation would be sporadically punctuated with cackles of laughter and then the grim faces would return and they would start arguing again. Or so it seemed to me.
And I would ask Thomas later… what were you all arguing about? And he would look at me as if I was crazy, and tell me no one was arguing and no one was angry… it was just a standard dinner conversation. But I have to admit, I didn’t really believe him.
So imagine my surprise, when finally, some four years later, when I could finally understand some of what was going on at the dinner table, that he was telling the truth. The majority of the time they are, in fact, not angry. They are simply discussing what fruit is in season, what they need from Ikea or where the next holiday destination is.
If I let the conversation flow past me, it still sounds angry, but at least now I can work out if they really are or not!