Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The German language posed several problems for the ignorant Englishman (me).
1: I do not speak German.
2: I tried to speak German to everyone I met in Berlin for fear of appearing stupid. My neurosis in this direction was amplified by meeting an American who spoke fluent Russian at London City airport and then hearing various other people in our queue speak German so well I assumed they were German only to later discover they were clever English people.
3: Every schoolboy knows that all our best swear words come from German.
After managing to buy a ticket for the bus using a machine (thus avoiding potential humiliation by rubbish German spoken to the kiosk lady) I knew I had to validate it. I pushed my ticket into a variety of slots on what turned out to be a post box. Gingerly I approached the kiosk and attempted my first German conversation. My hesitant attempt was met with what sounded to the untrained ear like "Pi** off you fu**ing *un*"
I opened my mouth to reply and she began to yell. "On the bus! On the bus!" until I backed away, hands raised.
My useless German got me into all sorts of trouble. I tried to order potato soup and was served this. I tried to bite through the skin and couldn't. The meat inside squirted down the back of my throat. Added to the fact the mustard looked like something unmentionable I had to give in.
Anyone who started off sounding like they were swearing at me cartainly was by the time I admitted defeat and lapsed into English...
Posted by CPMatthew