Sunday, January 04, 2009

Learning Français and Deutsch

Having wasted most of the last two months, I'm now back to (nearly) square one with my French and German, and have all but given up on Italian, and I've got 9 months to go. I might need to focus on "the basics" for my vacation speaking habits:

  • Basic chitchat (name, where they're from, etc.).
  • Buying things.
  • Ordering a beer/wine.
  • Getting directions to a hotel, attraction, or bathroom.
  • Finding out when something was built.
  • Asking people about their work.
  • General-purpose, non-offensive Bartish humor. (Typical example: When some folks say, "I hate X," and "X" could be anything from George Bush to vegetarians, I often use a comment I picked up from my high school drama teacher: "They've said nice things about you." That should make for interesting translating efforts.
  • If I'm feeling particularly bold, I might learn to talk about space stuff.

One thing I need to keep in mind is that Europeans don't define themselves by their careers nearly as much as Americans, and I'm certainly an extreme example of the breed. Hm. Lots of work ahead. I could just do the dumb-dumb basics, but I've got the time, and I want to get a lot out of this trip, yes? One would hope.

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