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The 40 Year Epic Fail

May 22, 2022

Was ist ein vierzigjähriger epischer Fehlschlag? Weiter lesen!

I have been blessed (and cursed) most of my life as being a polyglot. While I speak a dozen languages, German has always been more or less my second language since childhood. Yes, it’s true my mother forbade me and my father from speaking the tongue in our home. We went out to the back lawn and whirled away ungebunden nonetheless, disturbing only the birds with soft Viennese accents. I have always loved the German language and speak it fluently in several (5) dialects with much pride.

Some 40 years ago I met my wife and we have been happily married ever since then. We have very few disagreements and tend to learn a lot from each other every day. Because I was a teacher and college professor, I have an enthusiasm for sharing my knowledge. I have taught my wife to fly fish, shoot a gun very accurately and embrace the great American West. She, in turn, has taught me hundreds of things including how to make soap, better apply logic and take more meaningful photographs.

Well, needless to say, my enthusiasm for teaching my wife the German language began decades ago. Yes, I was well aware that as a member of a family that was almost completely exterminated at Auschwitz, she may not have been titillated by the Teutonic tongue. However I innocently wanted to share my enthusiasm for a language I love and so I started off slow. For many years the progress was nil.

When we moved to the South Tirol of Italy two decades ago, I felt it imperative that my wife to speak German as it is the predominate language in our extreme northern region of Italy. In many nearby villages, only Südtiroler Dialekt is spoken. I stepped up the pace significantly. She actually got pretty good at reading German; she can read a Zeitung ohne Probleme. However, she never grew fond of speaking German and at the end of the day she simply doesn’t like the language. Ich verstehe es!

This evening, like many others, I drilled away like a camp commandant over the dinner table: What does kurtz mean in English? How do you say “tall” in German? How do you order two biers in our local dialect? How do you say “the world has gone to hell?” The session wound up as it always has with my exasperation and a final question, “Wann wirst du Deutsch lernen, meine Liebe?” After 40 years of epic failure on my part, my lovely wife won’t even reply, “Niemals!”

Obstinance can turn to spite. Often I get the question from my dearest, “Why do you start speaking only in German after a couple of drinks? Ah but I am quick! Answer: Schnaps macht die Sprache lebendig! 😉🥃🥃

Was kann ein armer deutschsprachiger Mann als nächstes tun? Wait, I finally hear a faint reply in German from the kitchen: Halt die Klappe! (Du hast recht…)

Wenn Sie Deutsch lesen, kaufen Sie bitte mein Buch: Neues Wiener Konservatorium – Ein Blick zurück aus Amerika: Deutsche Ausgabe

If you’re like my wife, the book is also available in English.

  1. sugarplum39 permalink

    I am still in the process of learning Spanish. Been half heartedly trying for 50 years. Finally have the time to pursue this more rigorously. Wish me luck. p.s. people who can learn a language easily are obnoxious! LOL

    Liked by 2 people

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