They’re in every foreign country – names of shops or street signs that have us giggling like the 16 year old hiding within. And I think it’s about time I let mine out. Over the last few years I’ve been collecting some I’ve spotted in Austria and Germany. I’m not going to provide any explanations – I think they speak for themselves… enjoy!Continue reading
I’m quite often asked in Austria if I learnt German at school. My answer: “No, I learnt Indonesian,” is usually met with very blank stares.
When I began high school in Australia it was mandatory to learn one semester each of French and Indonesian.
Since the world is a bit tender and down at the moment, I thought why not write something a bit lighter this week.
Why not devote this blog to laughing at myself about one of my recent German blunders?
Because back when it was still possible to go to the supermarket without wearing a full biohazard suit, I discovered something I’d been misunderstanding for the last 6.5 years.
In the aftermath of passing my B1 test, I was experiencing renewed confidence in my German abilities. But of course, what goes up, must come down. A few weeks later, two incidents happened within about 20 minutes of one other, leaving me to realise I still have some work to do before I can call myself fluent.
Incident #1: Accidentally agreeing to a blow wave at the hairdresser.
A few weeks ago I undertook the German B1 test. When we originally looked into taking the test, hubby and I decided it made sense to do it together with the Austrian Integration component, which is what you need if you want to live here indefinitely. Since I have no intention of giving up my passport (and Austria doesn’t allow dual citizenship), it’s unlikely I’ll actually need this, but still, it’s done if for some reason I suddenly do.
The start to my German learning was intense, with private lessons a couple of times a week for the first year I was unemployed in Austria. After I passed the A1 test and got a full time job, I also dropped my lessons, but I dutifully continued studying, almost daily, on a strict regime that I stubbornly adhered to (well, mostly).
My plan was to work through the necessary six books in my own time and reach B1/2 level. It was partly because I needed a goal to work toward, and partly because I’d heard that B1 was necessary at some point for my living in Austria arrangement.
Even though my German is always improving, I still find myself getting tangled up and mashing random things together. Then there are some things that I just keep saying wrong. No matter how many times I’m told, or how often I tell myself, they are practically ingrained. Here’s my top ten.
One of the great irritations of German, apart from having genders and weird pluralising and everything else that goes on… is formal speech. You could say it is a little similar to English… but only in a very subtle way. In English, it’s normal to refer to someone older than you as Mrs or Mr so-and-so… until there comes a time where they tell you it’s fine to call them by their first name. But come on, that’s simple!
I’ve talked about my struggles of learning German in multiple posts, and I will no doubt continue to do so. One of the difficulties of living in Austria is that no proper German course will prepare you for the perplexing conglomeration of dialects.
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.