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Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's Time

A dear friend once suggested that I not speak English with an accent when I am speaking with native German speaking friends.

It’s a totally cheesy thing to do but I cannot help it. As hard as I try not to, I begin structuring my sentences like an English as a second language speaker. And then I throw in an accent on top.

“Now it sounds like you speak poor English as well,” said my friend.

I can’t win.

The other day while out for lunch I was asked something in German. “Ja Ja” I replied. It’s what I say to nearly everything. As my understanding of German continues to grow so does the uncertainty of speaking it – “ja ja” works almost always.

I have a new respect for those who speak a second language with which they are not 100% comfortable. They know absolutely that they will make mistakes and that they could very possibly look silly. It takes a level of bravery that I know I struggle with in some situations. But I know I have to go there if want to learn.

Overall the patience of people is astounding. No matter if I am in Austria or elsewhere. I have to admit that although I do not venture out of my comfort zone as often as I should, when I do, I am inspired by the way people respond. Another experience for which I am grateful.

I also understand now the comfort people can find in commiserating with a stranger in their familiar language. It is a momentary comfort.

My “ja ja” was not completely accepted at lunch the other day. As my time continues here in Austria so does the impatience with my limited language skills. They want to not hear my accented English, but rather me bumble my way through their language. I understand that too. Its time