Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Before Hanging Castle

Languages are hilarious in themselves.  Then you throw in another one and the hilarity goes through the roof. 

 First off just trying to properly pronounce words in another language.  It took me six months to finally get the hang of saying "Buch" (book).  And I still have problems with saying the German umlauts, they laugh and correct me and I don't mind at all because I know it sounds funny, and I know it sounds funny when they speak English.  I get a kick out of it when they just can't get the hang of saying certain words or sounds like "th"  they all say "s" or "f" or "d" instead; I've attached a video at the end of the post that is hilarious.  What I don't get a kick out of is when they argue with me about proper English.  I give them slack because they learn British English so the pronunciations are often different but things like "you're welcome" or "because" I get a little annoyed.  Whose mother tongue is English?  When I first said "you're welcome" to Clara in the first months that I was there she didn't understand why I said that.  I told her it's what you say after someone says thank you.  She didn't believe me at first but I convinced her with the help of Luise and Sophie who said they had learned it.  Then we decided that Clara missed that lesson in English.  Now we laugh amongst ourselves when other people say "please" instead of "you're welcome".  The German word for please is "bitte" and the German word for "you're welcome" is "bitte".  I guess they all learn "please" first and then assume it's like in German.  It took Thilo a lot longer to remember and believe me that "you're welcome" is used in English all the time.  It really doesn't make any sense when you translate "you're welcome" into German because it has the meaning like "you are welcome here", so we would argue and argue about it.  He would say, "Well that doesn't make any sense! Why should I say that!?"  And I would say back, "I didn't make the language! That's just what we say and EVERYONE in EVERY English-speaking land says it!" Finally he believed me after their trip to Morocco and he heard it often in the hotels.  Then he thanked me for teaching it to him because he wouldn't have understood why they were saying that, he would have thought that they welcomed them in many, many times and out of context.
One of the first things they asked me about, with a grin, was if I knew what a "before hanging castle" is.  I looked at them, confused.  Then they explained to me that is was the word, "Vorhaengenschloss" piece by piece translated.  vor=before, haengen=hanging, schloss=castle.  The actual word is padlock.  We laughed and laughed about that one. 

More language hilarity to come!

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