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.
On the day of my work Christmas party this year, it came about that I needed to get from my office into the city on my own steam – eg. sans car. I asked around, but couldn’t find anyone that was heading there at the time I wanted.
One option remained: Public transport
It is rather embarrassing, but probably time, to admit that after almost 5 years in Austria my husband still makes all my appointments for me – from the doctor to the hairdresser – I’m like a small child.
When I first came to Austria I got extremely excited by the prospect of ordering a sandwich at the deli. Yes, yes, I know… the bubble I live in is a strange and wonderful one. But back to the story – at most supermarkets, you can grab yourself a roll (be it white, round, long, or if you’re like me, a Kornspitz), then ask the staff behind the counter to fill it with ham, cheese and gherkins.
I love checking out the selection of rolls (even though I now always stick with my Kornspitz, kind of like how I always order a Big Mac). I love considering the different ham and salami options – but here I’m a creature of habit too, and I can’t move past the garlic-salami. Cheese and gherkins are added, and then my instant sandwich is packaged up at a ridiculously low cost. We often resort to these for quick lunches on the go and we buy one every time we are about to get on a plane in Austria.
Short and bitter.
This post is dedicated to those times I thought I had everything under control, those times I thought that I understood the German conversation flowing around me perfectly.
And then BANG – I suddenly realise I’ve accidentally agreed to a second schnapps, or a third, on top of all that other alcohol.
So here comes the schnapps. And I smile, like it was my plan all along. Just like that time I ordered the wrong sav – the cab instead of the blanc.
And I drink it down, and I sigh appreciatively like a good Austrian-in-training should.
The German language is known for its long words. Without even going into the ridiculously long words (which to be honest nobody uses anymore anyway) try Entschuldigung instead of simply saying ‘sorry’ or Kniebeuge for ‘squat’. Though in all honesty, part of the problem is that the German words just don’t fit well in our English-speaking mouths – they come out all clumsy and end up sounding a lot longer than they do when spoken by a native speaker.
But there are exceptions. So I’ve made a list of 10 words that are actually shorter in German:
They say that after a certain age, a person loses the ability to pronounce certain parts of a foreign language. That means, unless you start learning a second language from when you’re a kid, you’re always going to sound like a foreigner and there will always be some words you just can’t get right. Here are ten of mine:
The German word for ‘squirrel’ is basically impossible to pronounce. I could repeat it all day and it still wouldn’t come out right. However, it makes me feel a bit better that Austrians can’t pronounce the English ‘squirrel’ either.