I was feeling rather proud of myself for actually understanding more German words and getting out very rudimentary phrases. I have reached the point of I really don’t care how ridiculous I sound trying to speak German. it isn’t that I don’t read it or hear it ok…but speaking it, is a catastrophe. it is a bit embarrassing and sad when I go to events with the local dialect. it is a bit like going to a dance as a kid and simply wanting to dance but everyone turns you down because you are a bit odd or different. I comfort myself with this odd feeling by consuming various Swiss dairy products and baked goods.
the other day I was at a brunch where one other person actually spoke decent English, and that was really nice. I have a zillion question I would love to ask native Swiss people about culture, history, thoughts, and ideas…but aside from the “hello, how are you, doing well? glad life is nice!” my lack of communication skills for complex issues simply is not there to do such things. but something odd happened, as I listening to roomful of talk with bad acoustics and sound coming from every direction, and none of it was really intelligible to me.
usually, I can follow with some German words and pretend to follow along, but this was different. if you can imagine taking a hand blender and somehow sticking it into your ear, inside your brain and hitting the highest blend setting, and whipping your brains inside your cranium, it might give you a similar sense of what I was hearing.
then it dawned on me, everyone in the room was not speaking German, but hard core Swiss German. it is like trying to understand Philippine Tagalog when you are fluent in Spanish or Portuguese – it sounds sort of like something you know, but not one word actually is identifiable or makes sense.
it is a mystery to me how to even learn such a dialect unless you are born into it. I guess the Germans living in the south can pick up the dialect, but the northern speaking Germans are probably as clueless as I am in understanding.
what exactly is Swiss German? it is a dialect of German that has no formal book or writing, it is a spoken dialect so the idea of learning it like trying to learn high German doesn’t exist.
what does exist is a dull thud in my brain as I smile, stare out into space and feel like a space alien inside the country. it isn’t good, it isn’t bad. thankfully I am over really caring how many social rules and regulations I am breaking by simply trying to speak. I guess you call it not giving a shit and hoping that others may have compassion and sympathy for someone really trying and making a mess of their language to help versus talking behind ones back when you are out of the room, “hahaha…what a funny American!”
sadly, there is a universal condition called gossip who translates into all languages on the world. what was it Einstein said, “some people talk about people, others things…then there are a few that talk about ideas.”
to all, have a great holiday season. merry Christmas and my god (whatever your religious beliefs) bless you and your family in the coming new year.
I will enjoy the amazing cheeses and baked goods with a big smile upon my face while seeming to understand not much of anything.