Sketches from Berlin

Just a thought, here... but as I was once again leafing through my language-studies notebook from my years in Germany it occurred to me: Perhaps part of the reason my German sucks so bad these days is that I spent more time sketching in class than actually, oh, I don't know - memorizing words? You know. I'm just guessing.

But really, I can't blame myself. We're talking about a language where the construction is similar to Japanese and the words most resemble Lego blocks. Whatever you want to say - just keep stacking.

I love German, though. Even if the words are city-blocks long and you have to learn to spit from the back of your throat in order to avoid sounding American.

And trust me. When learning a new language, you want to avoid sounding American. Because our accent is one of the worst-sounding in the world - did you know that? It took me weeks to finally get the multi-national members of my language class to tell me the truth.

Germans say Americans sound like "quacking ducks." The Japanese say "we speak as if chewing a huge wad of bubblegum." You know how when Americans mimic Eastern languages we say stuff like "hyung, hing, shing, wah" or whatever? They do the same thing to us. Only they make sounds similar to dying waterfowl, sort of "Hwaaaahnk" followed by gummy mumbles such as "Loh-lah-loh-lah-loh." Apparently, we're very nasally, us Americans.

It's sort of funny when you think about it. We speak to the world through our noses. Our politicians speak to the world down theirs. That's something to think about.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >