Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mein Gott!

Or you might say Dios Mio! Or Oh My God! That is if you spoke German, Spanish and English. You see, that’s my problem.

I guess I feel like I’ve got English down pretty well by now. You might not be that impressed with my often nonsensical word order patterns, but my vocabulary is pretty darn good, and since it’s my native language, I am exceedingly confident speaking it.

Which brings us to Spanish. After living in Guatemala for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer more than 20 years ago and later living and working at a naval base in Cuba (long before it became a symbol of our country’s flaunting of the Geneva Conventions), I spoke Spanish a lot. Still can. But now things are not flowing so well. And why you may ask? Is my brain getting older? Well yes, but that’s not the problem. The problem is Duetsch.

I’ve been trying to learn German since I met Susanne—mostly informally and with the Pimsleur Method CDs (which are quite good by the way), and I recently took a real class and have improved my speaking abilities somewhat. But it seems I've developed a new language that no one can understand that I’ll call Spanman.

It’s terrible. I speak Spanish every day just gossiping with a woman who works with me and now I say “mit” instead of “con”, and “Vo ist” instead of “donde esta”. Don't even get me started on saying "und" and "y" at inopportune times. It’s nuts.

It's really rather frustrating. I am pretty sure now that the better I get at speaking German the more my Spanish will decline. Interestingly when I'm trying to come up with a way to say something in German I never think of Spanish words. It's like my brain wants to default to the German now. Great! Or shall I say “OH, MEIN DIOS!” -Monica

P.S. On the bright side Susanne speaks all three of these languages very fluently. So I guess she understands my Spanman. Small consolation.


earnest monkey said...

1-10 in Spanish learned from Sesame Street has always been easier for me to recall than the 1-10 in French from highschool and college as well as the 1-10 from living in Bulgaria for 2 years (and speaking Bulgarian!) :)

Val (and Steve) said...

I took spanish for six years throughout high school and college. Then, I wanted to learn Italian. I spoke "Spantalian" - it's what I called it. I was no good, and would start the sentences in Italian and end them in Spanish, and wouldn't realize it.
I can totally relate.