On Foreign Languages

If you’re looking for information on which foreign language to teach your child, this is SO not that blog.

I mean, I’m still trying to teach 4 out of 5 of my children English as a First Language so that they might understand me when I say, “Empty the dishwasher.”  I even try saying it loud and slow, like any good American trying to get a furr-in-er to understand, “EM TEE the DISH WASH ERRRRR.”

No luck.

So if you’re looking for foreign language advice, click away and find something helpful, and, you know, reliable to read.

This blog post is about my own love of language, and my current fling with German.  In particular, this blog post is about how German affects me as a mama of five.

Please don’t tell English; she’s still and will always be my first love, and I want to be faithful (I swear it’s true), but there’s just something so alluring and compelling about German.

I’m beginning to believe more and more that I should’ve been born German. A) They have the best words. B) If they don’t have the best words, they just keep adding crap onto words and stringing stuff together ’til they do have the best words. C) Their highest culinary achievements are beer and sausage… after they mastered those, they wisely quit the field (’cause, really, what else does one need, especially with the proximity to Belgian chocolate?).

In honor of my five (that’s “fünf” to you) kids, I’m going to share these…

My Top Fünf Favorite German Words

  1. schadenfreude (noun) – pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. My love of schadenfreude is well-documented, like, to name just two, the time I told you about my schadenfreudenous pants and the time I told you about my schadenfreudenous drive.  Basically, having fünf children reordered my world into one gigantic schadenfreude just for you.  You’re welcome; it’s really been my pleasure.
  2. weltschmerz (noun) – sentimental pessimism; sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life. Used in a sentence: “Someone who think she has become the world’s schadenfreude has some serious weltschmerz.”  (P.S. Thanks, AJ, for turning me on to this fabulous word.)
  3. fahrt (noun) – journey. …  and also the related ausfahrt (noun) – exit, usually seen on the motorway, combines aus (“out”) and fahrt (“journey”). According to the Urban Dictionary, “Stupid Americans believe that fahrt is the same as fart, but it is not.  Quit being stupid, Americans.” Well, you will notice that I emphatically was NOT stupid with fahrt listed above.  But guys! Now I’m talkin’ ausfahrt.  Ausfahrt.  (Teeheehee.)  Ausfahrt.
  4. auspuff (noun) – muffler exhaust. Not to be confused with an ausfahrt. They’re completely different.
  5. schwangerschaft (noun) – pregnancy. It’s like sex education, but in one word. I know. I’m sorry.  I’m 12.  Then again, that whole ausfahrt business probably gave me away.

Ah, how I love thee, German language.

In conclusion, Fünf Kinder ist eine Menge Kinder.

The end.

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
17 comments
  1. Sitting here with tears running down my cheeks and wondering how I missed this my first time through this blog! ROFL

  2. Oh man.
    I love this.
    I love you!!
    I have never before met someone who can express word for word why I love German so much.
    Fantastic post.
    *off to brush a few cobwebs off the dusty, rusty remains of my German knowledge…*

  3. Have you heard if “The Awful German Language”, an 1880 essay by Mark Twain ?

  4. Oh Beth! You are truly a kindred spirit. My husband’s parents used to live in Switzerland and I never tired of seeing roadsigns declaring “Ausfahrt”. Wind-related humour wrapped up in such a gloriously articulate package is so satisfying. I feel if we met in real life we would engage in a convivial burping competition.

    xxxooo

    1. I’m in! Let me know the next time you’re in Oregon.

      x

  5. […] kind of makes my point. I mean, other than that one time when I was pregnant with twins and an auspuff deceived me by being a little more solid than “puff,” motherhood hasn’t ever […]

  6. Ahh Deutschland, wie habe ich es vermisst!. Or something like that…I agree with you though that they have some great words. One of the things that amused me whilst I was there was how many synonyms they had for “weichei” or wimp. I saw a tshirt once which I swear had “FKKbauchstrandlieger” which I took to mean you’d only lie on your stomach at a nudist beach. The idea cracked me up. Although I have forgotten a lot of German since I came home – perhaps the following would now apply to me – fremdwortnichtkennerundtrotzdembenutzer!

  7. You said it all when you said, schwangerschaft. What a beautiful word! I actually studied German for 3 years in HS. I promptly forget it almost entirely when I moved here. You’ve almost inspired me to try to pick it up again. Oh if only I had a use for it….

    1. and what about ‘zwangerschap’ then? (pretty sure the Germans stole it from us, you know, they’re like that… 😉 )

  8. pps: you know what’s a real hoot, by the way? German grammar… (oh wait, now I think I’m getting my Ameripean slang mixed up… did I say ‘hoot’? I mean ‘you know what makes you want to shove a sharp straw up your nose’? 😉 )

  9. Ich muss dir sagen: Ich liebe dieses Geschichte! Wenn sollst du nach hier kommen? Weil Ich kaum warten kann bis Ich dir mitnehmen kann nach Deutschland, unseres Nachbarn. Du weisst hoffentlich dass wir nur zehn Minuten mussen fahren bis zum Grenze 🙂
    Kannst du dich vorstellen wieviel Spass wir haben werden? Worst, Bier, Trockener Kecks und Schwarzwalder Torte… ( http://aka.weightwatchers.nl/images/1043/dynamic/GCMSImages/SchwarzwalderKirschTorte_lg.jpg )
    Hurra! 🙂

    Kuss, Carina.

    ps: how funny is it that I found the best image of Schwarzwalder Torte on a Weight Watcher site? That cracked me up! Komisch 🙂

  10. The German word that gets my vote is ‘schmetterlink’. It sounds like an automatic weapon–

    but it means ‘butterfly’.

    1. I’m so so SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry to do this to you Webb, but it’s actually ‘SchmetterlinG’. I just could not stand by and let you ‘verpfusch’ (that means ‘botch’ or ‘screw up’) my favourite German word of all times… 😉 Otherwise great job on the ‘Introduction to German’! Love it!

      1. ps: if you think this word sounds like an automatic weapon, you should try Dutch! 😉 Start with ‘Scheveningen’ (which is actually one of our most popular seaside towns) and then continue with ‘hagelslag’ (which is what we put on our sandwiches and can be best translated with ‘chocolate sprinkles’, I know, doesn’t that make you want to come right on over? 🙂 )

        1. p.s. We remember Scheveningen! We visited there the year before Greg was born, when we were living in Belgium. We loved visiting Holland, especially the Kuekenhoff(?) tulip gardens.

          1. Yes, the Keukenhof! If you ever plan on coming back to visit Holland, let us know, we’ve got plenty more where that came from 🙂

  11. I am not a huge lover of the German language (too much grunting and I get enough of that already at home with my 5 kids) but I sooooooo love bathroom humor!!! Thanks so much for the ausfahrt and auspuff! You had me in stitches with maybe a little ausfahrt sneaking out!

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