I’ve lived in Germany over half my life, even though my original plan had been to stay for one year. How things change!
At the beginning, I was struck by the similarities as well as differences between life in the US and Germany. It took me years to adapt to the cultural differences – sometimes even to notice them. Fortunately, it only took me a few months to read German fluently: i.e. long articles in Die ZEIT or the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
After it was apparent I would be staying in Germany, one of my aspirations was to speak the language perfectly. I clearly couldn’t do anything about my accent, but I thought I might someday learn to speak without major errors. I was wrong.
In the early nineties, I first saw a billboard with a new German verb: ‘managen’. Uhhh… OK… ‘manage’?? That was the beginning of the end. Of the German language. For me. Things went downhill from there. Now, ‘Business’ means ‘Geschäft’ and ‘downloaden’ means ‘herunterladen’. I could list more examples, like ‘learnings’, which I always forbade my English students to use, even though it was official company lingo. I started asking myself why should I go to the trouble of speaking perfect German under these circumstances?
Still, I’ve always enjoyed translation and writing and remain thankful to the teachers in high school, college, and at the doctoral level who taught me to think and write clearly.
This blog is especially for those interested in comparing the German and American points of view.