I have been trotting round for months wearing a crappy handkerchief secured with hair ties as a face mask. There are some situations where I’ve used disposables, but for the most part I’ve made do. I would rather look a bit stupid than put more disposable masks into landfill. Still, with the inevitable conclusion that masks are here to stay, and without the resources to easily make my own, I finally went out and purchased something a little nicer.
I have no problem wearing a mask. Yeah, it’s not as nice as not wearing a mask, but it doesn’t hurt me, and if it helps just one person not get sick, then why not.
But I wonder if it’s just me that’s suddenly finding myself lost in translation. Because when we talk to someone, apart from simply hearing the words that they’re saying, there is a myriad of other things we subconsciously pay attention to, to understand the complete picture – from tone, to gestures, to pupil dilation and finally… to lip movements.
Speaking in a foreign language, I am relying on all elements in order to fully understand someone. And with Covid, one of those got taken away. Now I’m finding it more difficult to understand the cashier, the doctor or a work colleague I pass in the corridor. I feel like my German has digressed, not substantially, but perhaps a few months (though this could also have something to do with the fact that home office means far less exposure to the language).
And when I look at someone, bewildered, an expression that normally would have them automatically repeat what they said, they’re not fully getting me either, which means that I actually have to use my words.
I know these are first world problems, but they are, after all, my first world problems. I just hope that when this whole thing is over I don’t find out that I still can’t understand people. Hmmm… maybe I should invest in some more German lessons in the interim…
Is anyone else having this problem?