Saturday, January 26, 2008

On 26.01.2008, at 16:17, one of my German colleagues wrote:
(in part)

>As far as I know, the German grammar was the rather unsuccessful result of an attempt to superimpose the Latin grammar >(romanic language) on the German (germanic) language. Does not work that well.

This is part of my problem. I am one of the few, the proud, the GEEKY! National Latin Scholars (age 14 or so) and German retains its tribal inflections. Having learned Oberpfalz Bavarian, I found my colleague from Hannover unintelligible. He found me the same.. meanwhile the conflict between German, and its badly adapted Latin structure, is a mis-fit, that gives me fits.

>But I must admit that I am glad that German is my first language, I would be in severe difficulties to aquire it as a second or >third one. Romanic languages with all the declination and flexion drive me crazy. Before I have half figured out how to say >what I want to say, the person I am talking to will have retired by then.

LOL I feel the same way about Deutsch! Now, if we had moved to Italy, or Spain.. French is too irregular and gutteral for me to get along in. Very sexy to listen to, but I can barely ask for a glass of water.

>But what is much more difficult are the cultural (in the ethnological sense of the word) differences. I am just reading >"Teacher" by Mark Edmundson which gives me interesting insights into the mind of certain kinds of American college >students. A very strange, and for me strangely shallow and empty world - as long as I take my cultural background as an >absolute. Probably the characters of this book will find my world terrible from their point of view. I think because the material >culture is so similar, we tend to be in grave error in estimating the amount of difference between the US and Germany.

Our German friends say to us: "you are very strange Americans!" we tell them, that our American friends say the same. We keep the old, independent, free-thinking, iconoclastic America, rather than this new invention of slack-mouthed media victims. The "Neauveaux Ranch" if you will.. (Texanism for people who buy land to drive golf carts around on, because they are afraid of horses -NOT including LBJ, rather his would-be successor the limping duck) and their economic victims.

Out to dinner this evening ( lovely stroll to an Italian place), remarking on the vital aspect of the older folks, guaranteed retirement and health care.
There was an old gentleman who stuck his cigarette in his mouth, toyed with it in his hand, and finally took Tim Conway steps out the door to smoke, in in this new year of Rauchverbot (no smoking in public places), as did everyone else. Germans don't break laws. They put on their seat belts as they are driving their cars out of the driveway, but they put them on.

I've been living in your world (this region's sheltered version of it), for almost six years. It's not terrible. It requires more awareness, that there are people in the world other than yourself, something Americans are particularly terrible at.
We went looking for wide open spaces, and are having to re-adapt, to the places that are clogging up due to our own carelessness and obsession with individuality, and individual transportation.
We're the ones who didn't like all that togetherness, didn't fit or couldn't deal, in the first place. This is how we ended up in the New World.
Mr Clemen's satirical writings are still true today, for the child of wide open spaces and frontier mentality, tossed into close interaction, with people who are actually good at that sort of thing.

Recycling is the law. (though we've actually had people hide trash, in our driveway trees... !)
No working, no noise (can't mow your lawn), nothing open, on Sundays
Nothing bloody open after four on Saturday, either!
State funded health insurance, on several levels
Sick leave is unlimited, as directed by a doctor. You don't run out.
Litter is minimal. Vagrancy is invisible. Crime is also minimal.
There is a kind of social perfectionism, which perhaps only the Japanese supercede.
Driving lessons are expensive, and last something like 200 hours.
Even having a car running, while talking on a cell phone, is worth a fine and ticket.
Cars are required to have emissions stickers, in many cities. Cost is per emission level or something.
Bicycles are treated as vehicles (though a dear friend was, fortunately not badly, struck by a car in Regensburg)
Lots of room to walk, cycle, or take public trans!

Am I ready to go back to the crime-ridden, careless, littered, chaotic, polluted, expensive-awful-beer&wine often bad-food US?
Am I ready to pay rent again, to be again in the land of legless soccer moms where walking is criminal, and biking just gets in the way of cars? No wonder Americans are doughy. Sigh.

I'm at a point where we really have to "fish or cut bait".
I have to improve my German and pass the Heilpraktiker, or get back to the US and get into practice, and move on with my training.

It is easier for Americans who never fit in, at home, to not take it so personally, when they are a stranger in a strange land. It's a perpetual state, and no surprise for us.

And, I guess, these remarks might already feel way too serious people on the other side of the waters?

For most Americans, as with many Deutschers I'm sure you can think of, the world ends at their state line.

Someone shared a quote about a life without travel, being like reading only one page of a book.
Originally, my world ended at the Texas border.. but the first time I slept in the chill of the Rocky Mountains in the summer, I was "outta there". Once I left Texas, that was it. I will always have a home, but it's like realizing that your mother is an axe murderer... not so much that you wonder how you ever got on, there, but that everywhere else seems quite livable!

Quite sure I can't "go back and stay" I'll be migratory now, wherever I go.

Anybody got a Jetstream they're not using?

I have to add.. in the semiprivate world of my blog, that it is still OK to be educated and intelligent, in Germany. We sat next to a table of people who were running through a variety of languages and comments, in our tiny nowhere town.

Mostly good German, which I understand 80-85%. Czech, Russian (which I studied 1 semester) French, Spanish (which I also understand) some Italian as well (we WERE in an Italian restaurant!). I enjoy Greek very much, and wish I had more time and space to learn it. Let's face it, I love all languages but German.

This red-headed stepchild of Teutonic laid on an ill-fitting Latin frame, has been my curse, the last 5-6 years. I've learned it, I can converse in it, but I do not love it. It is a marriage of convenience.

It is only fun, because the German people are fun, and I will slog through their bloody (bloede!) language to reach them.

No, I can't stay here, but I don't have to go home.
Or do I?
I don't, yet, and won't know, for the next three weeks.

Our ponies are down to to wire.

No comments: