A dumb fuck*

Although I live in Germany, my German is alright, but far from fantastic. It was my third additional language, my mother tongue being Dutch, my primary language education being in English (ten years) and French (seven years). German, I followed for only two years. I sucked at it too. My understanding improved greatly by hearing German in-laws speak for more than a decade. The speaking only developed after I moved here two years ago. Inundation is the only way to really learn a language. I get by reasonably well in conversation, as well as professionally, but I still avoid phone calls, mumblers, and most especially dialects. Any situation where I might not understand people fully.

Today, our new ground floor neighbors moved in. Three young policemen stationed locally but coming from some desolate part of Bavaria, who will share their house here.

They have friendly faces. They seem nice enough guys.

I’m happy to see new young people move in. It’s great compensation for the old fart living directly under us. Greeting other folks in the building with a smile and a ‘Servus’ that is actually answered, feels good for a change.

The only problem is: what do these guys speak? They have a strong dialect, and no matter how hard I try, it’s incomprehensible to me. It’s also not Freisinger Bavarian. It’s not German. It’s something else.

So I just bumped into them for the first time. Did the awkward COVID-19 fist bump, which is obviously already a great intro. Then heard them all say something, I assume they were their names. Grazh, Grzzz, and Hghgzzz. I think. I told them in my best German that I was happy to see some life blown into the building again, and wished them a good evening.

As I walked up, one of them said something to me, that I couldn’t understand. I apologized and told him I’m not German, and my speech was not perfect. He repeated. Thrice. I’m not sure I fully understood it. I think he invited me over for a beer… His face revealed that it was something that was certainly meant to be positive.

In moments like this, when language is such a limitation to my communication, I can’t help it but I feel like a dumb fuck*. I know it’s silly and I’m too critical. I guess I will have to accept the invite and practice my Bavarian over alcoholic beverages.

*For lack of more fitting terminology. Since it’s pointed at myself and this is my own blog, I figured it was fine to use some profanity in the title. Live with it.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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