Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Used to Speak German

I used to speak German - and I used to speak it a LOT. I wasn't perfect in my grammar; but I was fluent in terms of flow and speed, and my vocabulary was good even if my conjugations and cases were limited or imperfect. (Even as an English-grammar snit, "subjunctive" still leaves me fuzzy in the brainpan; don't ask me to dative you in another language.) I could hold conversations exclusively auf Deutsch for literally hours. Well, with the one friend I had who was interested in doing the same.

To be sure - this was in like 1987. And I was an underclassman. But I used those language muscles.

I've become a German atrophite. I lost my whole language.

I have long blamed this (without spite) on my ex husband, whom as I hope has become obvious, I hold no malice toward - for this or anything else. And it pretty much is a result of living with him.

It's a d*mned irritating thing, living with a person who goes around spouting at you in a foreign tongue. It drove him batty. And quite rightly (he's taken revenge, over time, by jabbering at me en francais, the smartypants). But of course - in order to know a language - to keep it - one must use it.

I went years and years without using it.


I bought a converter box last February. The digital switch was coming, I haven't had cable in over a decade, I wanted to be ready (... and I live in the hometown of Circuit City, and as they went belly up the deals, sickeningly, *were* there to be had ...). So boom-boom, two boxes for me. Fab.

The best thing about the new channels was going from two really REALLY fuzzy iterations of PBS to no fewer than FOUR. All crystal clear now, hoorah. One of these is acutally not quite PBS, though. It's a world station. They broadcast Al Jazeera in English. They have international news from France (the anchor has the most distractingly nice voice, and she seems sassy somehow). They feature Japanese and Indian sitcoms.

And they play International Mysteries several nights a week. From Europe mostly; I've enjoyed reading a couple Swedish teleplays.

I don't watch the IM's often; they come in at two hours, and that's a good bit of reading for me, most "school" nights.

But this week, twice, they ran the German series. Even better, they ran the exact same episode twice.

It's all very Law and Order - some of the procedures in the procedural are no less laughable than they are in English (the Medical Examiner of rich, creamery, expositive goodness - the absolute unprofessionalism of the cops) - but watching a show that long, twice, auf Deutsch ... ahh, a pleasure. I caught myself speaking German to the dog before bedtime. And she didn't mind the tiniest little bit! I even pleased myself by finding a few words still buried in my head.

I miss German. It's one of those things I think about - seriously - a couple times a year. And don't do much about.

Wonder whether it might not be a bad idea ... you know, before I have to go to Europe on my book-signing tour ...


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