Ratisbonisms | The challenge of learning zwoa versions of German
Unser Autor Ross kommt aus dem verregneten Norden Englands. Letzten Herbst verliebte er sich in eine Regensburger Erasmus-Studentin. Nach zwei Semestern war ihr Auslandsaufenthalt vorbei. Sie ging zurück nach Regensburg – und er kam mit. Doch die Stadt und ihre Einwohner bescheren dem Zuagroastn seitdem den ein oder anderen “what the fuck?!”-Moment. In seiner wöchentlichen Kolumne „Ratisbonisms” erzählt Ross mit seinem dry english wit von Regensburgs Eigenheiten.
I started a German language course three weeks ago and due to the fantastic teaching of my girlfriend, I was allowed to start from the second level. Learning to count and name colours would have driven me to insanity. Walking into the classroom on the first day I was full of beans, I had a decent vocabulary and a well practiced sheet of information to introduce myself.
We started with our first topic: the dreaded four cases! I’d known from dipping my toe into the lake of German language that understanding this area of grammar was going to take a great deal of patience and a few bottles of tipex.
The teacher began a lesson on the dative case and I, along with most of the class, picked it up straight away. But just one person had to know why the feminine article changes. Why?! It just bloody does! That’s the rule. She went on to ask if the gender of the noun actually changes. I was searching for cameras; this had to be a joke. Alas, it was not.
We sat for 15 minutes while the teacher remained calm and explained as thoroughly as possible. When the lady finally, almost grudgingly, accepted the fact that that was the rule and rules are just rules, the teacher proposed a five minute break to the delight of almost everyone. “Really? Come on guys, we’ve wasted 15 minutes and now you need a break?!”
The entire class, including the clearly exhausted teacher, shot me a look of hatred. I remained in the classroom alone during the apparently much needed break, for fear of having my head flushed in the toilet or my lunch money stolen.
Having mastered the dative, I was soon to learn that a lot of the “German” I had already picked up wasn’t quite right. My pre-practiced Bayerisch had already let me down once. Upon arriving at the airport in Munich, I wanted to give an impression that I knew a bit of German. But the passport controller looked like he’d had his new car hit by a meteor when I said “Servus Griasdi!” which I’ve later learned is on the same level as “alright mate?” in English.
Now, three weeks in, I imagine my situation to be similar to that of a German moving to Scotland, living there for three months, hearing of tatties, eejits, bairns and breeks, and then starting an English course. What I was hearing on a daily basis, I assumed to be correct but my teacher says otherwise. German is baffling enough, without having to learn zwoa versions!