|Two forms of language.|
That was the first language which I studied in school, starting in the 7th grade up through my freshman year in college. I struggled mightily with le français, it seems that the words in my head would not come out properly through my mouth. Seems that my lips were always getting tangled up as I tried to say things en français.
I received mostly Cs, no doubt Madame gave me the benefit of the doubt on many an exam. I knew the words, just didn't always get them in the right order, with the right tense, or (when speaking) with the correct pronunciation.
Zut! (En anglais, Damn!)
Yes, I seem to have a great facility for learning how to swear in foreign languages. Might be a G.I. kind of thing, we go to foreign countries, try to impress the local ladies, and learn how to say bad things in the local tongue. Not necessarily in that order. (I find that learning how to order a beer is an important first step. After a couple of those, the other things seem easier.)
Language comes in all forms, that paper towel dispenser above (said subject may form the basis of a future TIFPA post) has two forms of language on it. The message in "sergeant-speak" boils down to this -
"You knuckleheads will grab the corners of the paper towel, then you will pull straight down, with the necessary force to cause each towel to tear at the perforations and...
Damn it Schmuckatelli! Nobody said to do that yet.
And I said TWO HANDS!!!"Uh, where was I?
Yes, two forms of language, one using pictures to convey the proper way to get a paper towel. (With the added bonus of illustrating what to do in the event of no paper towels dangling from the dispenser because the last guy screwed it up.)
The other form of language on the dispenser uses the written word. In three different human languages, English, French, and Spanish. (Which I guess are the most prevalent in these parts. I don't recall seeing anything like this in Germany. I guess the Germans just know how these things work and don't need instructions written on the outside.)
Literally translated the French reads, "Pull with the two hands." The Spanish comes out just like the English, "Pull with both hands." French is more poetic I guess, more expressive. (I can see myself saying that in French with an expressive Gallic shrug, no doubt with a Gauloises dangling from the corner of my mouth, while wearing a beret. No doubt mispronouncing the whole thing. C'est dommage... No, I didn't start smoking again, the French cigarette reference was artistic, or something.)
I did do a little more research on this topic, for instance in Italian the instructions would be, "Tirare con entrambe le mani." Literally, "Pull with both the hands." In German it would be, "Ziehen Sie mit beiden Händen oder ich werde dich geschossen!" Literally, "Pull with both hands or I will have you shot."
Um, no, that's not it at all. I've been watching too many old war movies. The correct wording would be, "Ziehen Sie mit beiden Händen oder ich werde Sie an die Ostfront geschickt!" Literally, "Pull with both hands or I will have you sent to the Eastern Front."
No. No. No. No.
Again, too many episodes of Hogan's Heroes in my past. Which reminds me of this, seen over at Tam's place the other day -
One more thing, when I started studying German I discovered an affinity for that language. It just seemed to flow, I picked it up pretty quickly, even down to the der, die, das, dem, den (which are some of the many ways to say "the") and such. I had no trouble pronouncing the words and they came out in the right order. Though I still have this damnable inability to roll my Rs, that really bugs me. Though I did have a nice German lady tell me that I spoke German with no accent. The Missus Herself thought that meant I wasn't speaking it right.
Ingrid, the nice German lady, told her, "Oh no, he has no American accent. He sounds like a German when he speaks in German."
Not to brag or anything.
Did you know that all large dogs seem to instinctively understand German? No? Well, it's true. Well, maybe it's just that German lends itself to giving commands, okay, to a dog it sounds like a command. Or barking. German sounds very military when it's barked, like a sergeant barks and...
Verdammt, Schmuckatelli was Sie lachen über?*Um, yeah. Like that.
FWIW, I now speak French with a German accent. According to the Belgians.
*Damn it Schmuckatelli, what are you laughing about?