Don’t judge a language by its cover
For many, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention German, is that it is not at all a sexy language. I was one of those people who had always held a negative stereotype of the German language. This was due to my childhood wherein most of my friends and those around me would always mock it. So, it’s no surprise that I was not attracted to learning the language. To me, German sounded weird, awkward, harsh and aggressive.
German does sound ugly when you don’t know how to speak it correctly. The video ‘How German Sounds Compared To Other Languages’ is hilariously funny, but at the same time it intentionally emphasizes stereotypes.
Only fools never change their minds! Right? My first real encounter and interaction with German speakers was at Wvrst, a German-style beer hall on King St, during Diskuto’s German and Russian corners. I was literally surprised by the warm welcome from the German and Russian speakers. Regardless of my scant German, I felt comfortable and integrated into the German Diskutizen community quickly.
I’m one of the organizers of the French/ Spanish and East Asian Languages corner (Japanese, Korean and Mandarin and Cantonese) but I never imagined I would participate in a German meetup. Subconsciously I was restrained by my learned stereotypes of German.
Curiosity killed the cat ?
Intrigued by the determination and diligence of Germanophiles, I did some research about German such as where the language is spoken (interesting fact: Namibia was a former German colony). It turns out the closest relatives of German are Dutch and English. That’s why I think it’s easier for native German speakers to learn English. The more research I did the more I wanted to know about German until I read “The Awful German Language” a very humorous essay by Mark Twain about his attempts to learn German.
My New Year’s Resolutions
Is learning German one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014? If I follow the method that Benny the Irish Polyglot promotes on his blog, Fluent in 3 months, it seems possible for me to learn four new languages in a year. Portuguese is on the top of my to-learn-list, as is reaching the B2 level in Mandarin (according to the The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Learning basic sentences in German would be great, but honestly I’m thinking about learning more. Unfortunately, I am a slow learner regarding languages. It took me years to learn English and I’m still learning it! Or maybe the more you study it the harder it becomes to master! The real question is–—will I overcome my fears and stereotypes about learning German? Ya, ich kann!