Tuesday, April 10, 2007


When I went to Guatemala in 1987 as a Peace Corps Volunteer I couldn’t really speak any Spanish. It was pretty painful, but after three months of intensive language training I headed out to the little town of Quezaltepeque and was able to ask things like “where is the bathroom?” and “how much does that food cost?” You know, the basics. It definitely got better over the two years I was there, but I remember how hard it was to learn.

So now flash ahead to 2007. My wonderful partner Susanne is gifted at foreign languages. In addition to speaking fluent Spanish (when we went to Guate a few years ago she was mistaken as being Guatemalan once—I am comforted by the fact that it must have been her dark hair that fooled them while my red hair was a dead give-away that I was not really Guatemalan. Oh and her Spanish is excellent while mine is now sort of good.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Susanne is also a native German speaker. When she was three her family moved to the U.S., so in reality she’s a native speaker of English too, but when she talks with her family it’s pretty much in German. In fact when we are in Germany, it’s assumed she is a local based on how fluent she is. But I’m not jealous of her adeptness at language. Definitely not. ;-)

So since we met, I’ve been immersed—sort of—in German. I hear her end of the phone conversation and can usually tell the story she is telling because I caught one word of it. And I can say endearing things like “good morning my little sleepy hat!” (yes they say “hat” not “head”. So cute.) But I’m always asking how to say things and Susanne is forever patiently explaining AGAIN, how to say what I asked her about last week AGAIN. I think my brain may be full.

So…our thought is that our baby will learn Spanish and German and English. And if that’s the case I’m going to have to get better at German. So I’m trying out a few new phrases. But Susanne’s not cooperating in teaching me how to say them. For instance… “your turn honey” or “the baby’s crying honey”, or that old standby, “what? I can’t hear you honey!”

Maybe our child will teach me in a few years! Guten Tag jeder. ( I love Babel Fish!)


Sarah and BB said...

That is really funny. German is a really interesting language, although when I first moved to Germany listening to German used to give me such headaches! A lot of people perceive it as being a harsh sounding, or loud language, but since being here and learning German fluently, I have seen and heard so much beauty in the language.

And you like Babelfish? I translated my wife's blog from german into english once and the translation was horrible! But it's funny to try and guess what she really was saying. But I guess it just proves the point that lots gets "lost in translation"!

Susanica said...

Hi Sarah--I only love Babelfish because my German is so awful the only way I can even get any sense of some e-mail messages from Su's family is to put the text in there. For some reason though is someone writes "Liebe Susanne, Liebe Monica" to start their message Bablefish says it's saying "If Susanne, Monica Loves". Too funny! Hope you and Sarah and Nicolas have a wonderful day! -M