Thursday, May 18, 2006

You really don't want a tip, do you?

I had a great trip down south and will write more once I upload some pictures.

For now though, an amusing anecdote. My train got in at midnight so I took a cab home from the station. I tell the driver my address and he immediately repeats/imitates what I said and says "you're an American, aren't you? I could tell because you speak German like your mouth is full of chewing gum." WHAT! I asked him how the British sound and he said they also have a strong accent but don't sound like they are chewing a big wad of gum. I've heard many American jokes and criticisms, but sounding like we are chewing gum while speaking German is a first!

We chatted a bit more and I told him that I had just returned from the part of Germany where Schwabisch is spoken and that I found that very difficult to understand. He said he was a Berliner and then launched into a heavy Berlin accent. I know there are regional dialects in the States, but I swear they are more difficult to understand here! In the last 72 hours, I've heard Schwabisch, Bavarian, Berlin and Friesland (on tv) accents. Add in an impossible accent from Cologne/Dusseldorf and I would be totally done!


At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly cab driver. Erin, I think your german is perfect!


At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have tipped him. Perhaps I would have even left some chewed up gum in the back seat. Hpmh!

At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

was he talking to you in german or english when he asked if you were american??? just the facts please... and being told you speak like you have a wade of gum in your mouth isn't that bad, at least you can speak perfect english....and that is one language more than most americans... right?? especially those with the y'all twang that we all love da 'ear so much. Makes for some real smart talkin' yins that really make da most sense... kinda like G-dabawa.. ( did I spell W right??)

At 2:29 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Just the facts... the whole conversation was in German. The funny part is that I would say my German seems better than it actually is because my accent is decent. My English is also a bit rough around the edges from being here for the year... guess I am in quite a pickle:-)

G-dabawa...Are you dissing the decider who knows about nucular weapons because he listens to his gut... Who believes the same thing on Wednesday as he does on Monday, regardless of what happened on Tuesday? How rude;-)

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woröm wöllst de Kölsch hüre?

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Erin said...

See, you prove my point, what on earth does that say?
Why do I want to hear Kölsch (being spoken)?
Why wouldn't I want to hear Kölsch?
Something totally different?

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tschuldigung, bin hier gerade reingeschneit... I am sure your German is great and your accent is at least decent (sonst hätste den Bärliner nich' verstanden, wa?) but to be honest American English does sound like speaking with a mouth full of chewing gum... sorry...but an American friend once told me that German sounds to her like a staccato-barking of some officer...not that nice either...
Franka (<--- english far from decent, German with heavy region-mixed accent ;-))

At 1:56 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Hi Franka, thanks for commenting! I appreciate that someone else confirmed the description. That night I was was a bit surprised the cab driver said that because I found it rude, but more than that I was surprised because I had never heard such a description before. Next week I will be at meetings where 10 Americans will be speaking German. I plan to listen carefully for "the mouth full of gum":-)

I'm always interested in American descriptions of German because I think they are mostly stereotypes from movies and shows where English speaking characters have German accents (ie Hogans Heroes and the Sound of Music.) The other unfortunate thing that influences American opinions I think, is seeing old war footage of Hitler giving speeches. Even I will admit that hearing German spoken on a loud speaker evokes some historical images. In general though, I think listening to German (hochdeutsch specifically) doesn't sound anymore rough/foreign to my ears that Russian or French.

At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right it was rude to tell a customer sth like that - but you are already familiar with the "Berliner Schnauze" by now right? Die meinen's nicht so...meistens ;-)
By the way I like to listen to American English German accent, heavy German accented English is much more painful to me (I know what I am talking about ;-))
Your are right my friends comment might be influenced by some German Nazi - character / historical figure - but what made me nervous: she told me that quite spontanousely after listening to me speaking German to someone else on the phone ... makes me think...:-)
It is fun to read your blog - an interesting perspective on Berlin and Germany! Thanks.

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Ouch, yeah, your friend's comment was way harsh! In my house we would say "use the filter!" (think before you speak!) I was most glad my filter was working the day I almost called someone a "Soup Nazi." That is of course a Seinfeld reference, but probably one that is, most understandably, lost on a German. (:-0 bad Erin!)


Post a Comment

<< Home