|The Soaring Kiwi and the Sauerkraut||
|The Soaring Kiwi and the Sauerkraut||
A Funny Thing About Germans
"Now why would you possibly want to live in Munich?", the Frau translates her parent’s neighbour for me. "The southern Germans are so boring, they have no sense of humour. Not like us here in Hessen."
"And it's true", she adds to my sceptical glance at the neighbour. "Those from the middle and north of Germany are so much more fun."
Now that's a funny thing, I think. What was it I was frequently told before we left for Germany?
"Oh you are going to live in Germany. How nice. But won't you be bored? The Germans, they have no sense of humour".
Now we are back in Herborn-Seelbach again I find my fluent Schwiegermutterdeutsch not of much use when confronted with local dialect for the first time. A couple of days after our arrival we are invited to the birthday party of some family friends. Waiting to find where I should sit at the table I quickly realise that my language fog is, like the sauce covering the asparagus in front of me, thicker than usual. I have no idea how to ask which chair is available.
Hochdeutsch, or High German, is the language commonly known as German and originates from Hannover. A relic of the Prussians I am told later by a Bavarian, very proud of his Bavarian dialect - Bairisch. German dialects from different towns and regions in Germany and Austria vary from one another and Hochdeutsch by various extents ranging from diverse pronunciation, words and even grammar. Even after only a week in Germany, Seelbacher Platt, the Herborn-Seelbach dialect sounds like an American speaking bad German.
I hunt madly for my translator. Not that she's actually much help. It turns that while the Frau can understand a little of the local dialect, she is not able to able to speak it. Apparently her parents are at fault. Günter and Anneliese only ever spoke Hochdeutsch with the Frau and her brother. She claims. It appears this is not unusual as none of the younger generation at the table converse in Seelbacher Platt. In this way many of the local dialects are dying out, Seelbacher Platt included, I learn. It probably also doesn’t help when the children disappear off to foreign lands and drag back with them someone from the bush who can't speak Hochdeutsch, let alone Seelbacher Platt. Some at the table are convinced that it is not only the dialects that will disappear, but German as well. Apparently in 20 years the only language spoken in Germany will be English.
Somewhere in the course of the night, the Frau and I explain to our hosts that we are intending to move to south to Munich, or München as the city is known in German. Why Munich they ask? That is simple we tell them. Or rather the Frau does. I just sit and nod my head knowledgeably, not letting on I only understand after the Frau remembers to translate.
"The Alps", she states. The northern most mountains of the Alps are reachable by car or train in less than an hour from the central city and on a clear day, are visible from almost anywhere high in Munich. This big playground of big altitude for big kids promises numerous weekend and holiday opportunities to go mountain biking, hang gliding, hiking and windsurfing in the summer and skiing in the winter.
This leads to much discussion. But not about our intended sporting activities, but rather around the boring Bavarians statement above. Just how accurate this discussion and associated statements are, I find out a few weeks later in Kössen, a small Austrian village around an hour from Munich. It is in Kössen that I meet a Munich paraglider pilot who, after I tell her I am living in Munich, tells me very knowledgeably:
"How great. You'll love it in Bavaria. We’re different from the northern Germans. We have a sense of humour."
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