Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ich spreche Deutsch.

Over the next few months, Torsten and I are going to have a plethora of out-of-town visitors, most of whom will not actually be staying with us. My parents are coming up on Sunday with some relatives of ours who live in Norway. Then in a few weeks my friend Pascal and his entire family (parents and three younger siblings) are coming to visit for a few days from France. Then a week or two after that, Torsten's parents are coming to the US for three weeks and will spend about eight days here in DC. Then in October, one of my French host brothers will potentially be staying with us for two or three weeks.

I just noticed that all of those visitors (with the exception of my parents, although technically my dad is British) are European. How incredibly cultured of us.

All of these visitors are people I want to see, so that's great, even though it means somewhat of a hectic schedule. The biggest deal to me is Torsten's parents, since I've never met them before. He knows my parents and has come with me to North Carolina to stay with them several times--I don't even remember exactly how many. My parents both like him very much and he and my dad get along especially well.

But it's easier for him, because they all speak the same language. And I'm not an only child, and my parents are used to their daughters being in serious relationships, because my sister is already married so they've been through it once before. And the parents of only children, especially the mothers of male only children, are famous for not being happy about relinquishing their precious offspring to the arms of a significant other. I've met the mothers of boyfriends in the past and have gotten along well with them--but it's never been as serious as it is with Torsten. And they've never been only children before. And their parents have never been as far away from them before. And they've always spoken a language that I also spoke.

With that in mind, I've undertaken the process of attempting to learn German. Perhaps this will help alleviate any potential antagonistic mother-in-law issues. Although Torsten swears I shouldn't be worried--if his mother doesn't like me, she won't say anything. Isn't that comforting? She can secretly hate me and resent me and I don't have to care, as long as she doesn't say anything to my face.

Anyway, I've already learned a small amount of German from Torsten over the course of our relationship (mostly words that would be highly inappropriate to use in front of his parents), but now I'm doing actual little German lessons, using a teach-yourself-German kit that Torsten purchased me quite some time ago. (Yes, I know, if I had started the lessons when I originally got the kit, I would practically be fluent by now and wouldn't have to worry. But as everyone who knew me in college already knows, I am nothing if not a procrastinator. I think the pressure helps me perform.)

They're going quite well, I think. Torsten supportively does them with me, and quizzes me on my flash cards, and teaches me little things that aren't included in the kit. I've done four lessons, and I've learned maybe 50 words (please, do not do the math and tell me how long it would take me to become fluent at my current rate) and a little bit about pronunciation.

Tragically, German contains yet another sound that's a cross between an O and a U. I already had to learn how to make new O/U sounds when I learned French. I thought I was done with that. Shouldn't there be a limit on how many different (and seemingly impossible) ways exist to pronounce an O or a U? Leider nicht.

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