March 30, 2016
some language stories
Last week, I had quite the incident involving butter.
I walked into a grocery store, thinking I could make some cheap butter pretzels if I just bought my own butter and pretzels. I went to the dairy aisle and eventually came across the dozen or so choices for butter. I chose the smallest item in that section, surprised at how curiously tiny the package was. I took it home, opened it, and proceeded to marvel at the grey-brown color of the butter.
… or was it butter?
I took a few sniffs - it smelled like clay - and even put a tiny spoonful of grey-brown substance in my mouth.
Okay, it was definitely not butter. I finally conceded defeat and decided to consult a dictionary; it turned out to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker’s yeast. I have a feeling that my freewheeling eating style will eventually result in a trip to the doctor’s for copious amounts of pain medication. May the force be with my stomach, because it’s definitely not with my brain.
tl;dr: The word for yeast in German is Hefe. It costs 9 cents to purchase.
I had a proud moment today.
I woke up at 7am, got on the phone, and dialed the number to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt (for apartment registration). I was only half-awake and surprised myself just a little when I managed to mumble out, “Ich möchte einen Termin.” (I want an appointment)
I woke up a little more when the man on the other end replied in a long stream of German, asking me what type of appointment I desired. Then, in the ensuing five minutes or so, he asked me a series of questions, all of which were things we’d covered in my German class. What’s your name? First name? Last name? Could you spell your name for me please? Where do you live? What is your phone number? Here is the date and time of your appointment. This is your appointment number.
He was very patient with my excruciatingly slow recitation of numbers. There was no switching to English. When I put down my phone, all I could think of was how sleep deprivation was actually improving my language skills. Forget alcohol … I know the secret now.
Unfortunately, my non-English conversational ability in badminton is still utter crap. Although I’ve somehow managed to have multiple conversations in French (where we discus salient strategies to counter the opposing team), in German all I can manage is the score.
Well, I’ve also become a professional at vocalizing the multi-syllabic word for sorry.