Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Car Repairs and Communication July 15, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,deutsch,germany — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:02 am
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I took my car in to the shop today for some suspension work and left with a feeling of language acquisition accomplishment. When I walked in, I remembered to say “Guten Morgen,” or, “Good morning.” An employee came out of the office and returned my greeting. I asked, “Wie geht es Ihnen?” or “How are you doing?” He answerd, “Gute,” and then asked, in German, if I was dropping off the Volvo. I said yes as I attempted to separate my car keys from my house keys. He said, “Schwer” which means “hard.” I grinned and said, “sehr,” very. I handed him my keys and he handed me a form and asked for my phone number. I didn’t catch what he said the first time so I asked “Wie bitte?” “Pardon me?” He repeated it and I caught “Telefonnummer.” After writing down my number, I asked, this time in English how much it would be. He said, in German, that he didn’t speak English. As I fished in my brain for the German question, the customer who had come in behind me asked for me. As the employee was figuring it up, I said, “Ich habe VAT form,” letting him know I had a VAT form. (As service members we don’t have to pay some of the German taxes and the VAT form is what gets us out of them.) As I walked out, I realized that I’d asked him in English without really realizing it because we had been communicating. It just seemed natural that we would be able to continue to communicate if I switched a little bit to English. It was kind of weird but fun, too. I left feeling really good. I would have been able to do the entire conversation in German if I’d needed to. It took me a couple of minutes while driving home to remember how to ask “how much” in German but I did finally remember. “Wieviel costet das?” “How much does that cost?” Not perfect but good enough for communication, which is what I aim for.

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2 Responses to “Car Repairs and Communication”

  1. AFRed Says:

    Good job, I’ve been learning German through a few avenues. Hoping we get stationed in Germany after this next PCS to Nevada I’ll be set. It drives me nuts that my paternal grandparents didn’t bother teaching any of the kids Flemish or German; it would have been nice to have learned some of the language growing up.

  2. ladyrebecca Says:

    Thank you. I would like to learn more but with the other schooling I’ve got going on, there just isn’t time. I’ve already lost so much of what I gained during that one semester that I’m not sure I could step into German 2 without a solid month of concentrated review.

    I’ve talked to numerous people who’ve had similar experiences with their grandparents. There seems to be a reluctance on the part of immigrants to pass on the “native” tongue to their progeny. Of course, if I were actually to immigrate to Germany, I would try my hardest to integrate and that would include mastering the language. I would need to practice it always, even at home. And if Jael learned it in school, I would need her to help me and it would be hard to find time to also teach her English. Still, it’s a shame that so many kids and grandkids are where you are, wishing they’d have learned it when they were young rather than when their brains are all set in their linguistic ways.

    Thanks for commenting. I look forward to hearing more from you!


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