Monday, May 18, 2015

It's as if I have German bodyguards and translators

I speak enough German to get by in daily life. I can order in a restaurant, have a conversation about basic things (for 2+ hours, actually), ask for something I don't know much about in the store and receive a response in English. Hey, I lose some and I win some. That's cool.

The sad thing is that I don't usually speak German with my German friends, or for that matter, my expat non-German German-speaking friends, even though they even speak B1 or even better German. We usually have complex, intellectual conversations, sometimes about their studies and research (I hang out with a bunch of scientists and engineers and LOVE it because they keep my brain busy). I have no idea how to speak about that in German.

As a result, I think that it's not super clear that I can speak about an advanced beginner to intermediate level of German. Plus, I am embarrassed to speak to them in German. It was easier (well, slightly) for me to speak to a bunch of people in a local club when I hadn't realized that I was going to have to than it is to speak German with my friends. Go figure.

I've realized that my friends are a bit protective of me when we're out in public together. For example, when I was at the bakery with C and D, I was asking about a cake but couldn't think of the word. They rushed in, surrounded me, and supplied the word as well as the rest of the conversation with the bakery clerk. It was almost as if they were instinctively protecting me. From what, I don't know, unless it was the German language ;) Never mind that I've visited the bakery on my own in the past and have managed the transactions myself in the past.

I think it's actually a sign of kindness and concern that my friends want to help me. In that case it wasn't necessary, but I still found it cute. I was spending the weekend in another city with some other locals and told them the story.

I visited a cafe with the two new people (both Germans) and we were admiring the ice cream flavors. The employee started to explain the flavors but my companions had to stop him to find out if I knew what he meant. Instinctively, they flanked me, spoke to him in German, then translated the flavors. I was trying not to crack up. I could understand the guy perfectly fine; believe me, ice cream flavors are one thing that I have down pat!

I guess that's what I get for not speaking German with my friends and acquaintances. Again, I see it as a kindness that they're trying to help. I can always practice when I'm on my own, and if I ever get into a situation where I really need help with the German language, there are people who could help me. Not everyone receives the gift of friends who are pseudo-bodyguards and real translators.


  1. Having German translating body guards going everywhere with me would be really handy actually, haha!

  2. I think I need them when I call Kabel DE! ;)