Friday, April 24, 2015

A language problem?

I, at 75 years of age, can get by in four languages.  English of course, is my own language, but my time in Papua New Guinea taught me the basics of conversation of the two Lingua Franca of PNG, Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin.
I learnt the basic 50 words of German when I was an apprentice at a large government engineering works in the 1950s.  I was befriended by a German workmate who was a Luftwaffe pilot during WW2.  Somehow I felt that a pilot was not part of the atrocities that were part of  the German war machine and I became friends with a German group who had settled in Western Australia and were ‘fitting in’.  They built houses for each other in a group project and I followed along listening to their conversations and learning their 50 words of German.
Later I read more about the atrocities and the propaganda that sucked in the population of Germany to despise Jews and the acceptance of the Final Solution.

What is strange is that when I now read something on-line which demands a comment I immediately think of adding my comment in my 50 word Deutsche. What is happening?

In the 1990s my wife Joan and I spent a pleasant 4 weeks in the south of France.  Joan had been a French teacher and spoke the language well.  When we were about to return home to Australia we had to drive to Frankfurt to fly out.  Joan told me it was my turn to book a hotel in Frankfurt.  I rang a hotel and started to bumble my way through my simple German and the receptionist interrupted me saying...'excuse me sir, do you speak English?'   Whew!

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