Germlish

When your parents immigrate from Germany and don’t speak a word of English, there’s always some fun around the linguistics. Even after 60 years.

German, while sometimes guttural to listen to, is relatively easy to learn. Once you know the alphabet you can pronounce the words when you see the spelling. There are a few idiosyncrasies as you might expect (such as … when 2 vowels go walking the 2nd one does the talking – based on the way the letters sound in English; for example “drei” is pronounced “dry”). It’s pretty easy to catch on especially when your uncle has a name like “Heinz “. In English that pronunciation could go one of many ways …. and it’s exactly that which has through the years provided endless giggles and even confusion.

My mom pronounces her “th” sounds like an “s”. Therefore the number 3 would, for my mom, be sree. My dad on the other hand, turns his “th” into a “t”. So his 3 is “tree”. This phenomenon occurs also with the letter “s” because Germans would pronounce it “sh”. For example, my folks live in Stratford. To them it’s “Shrutfort” (in German the letter “a” is “ah”).

So much fun.

For years we have laughed about the name Liaison (as in College) since my dad insisted on calling it “Layzeeon”. This drove my mom crazy for some reason. Even though she was the culprit behind “vuht duh?” which was her take on “what the?”

Language wasn’t the only cultural anomaly as we also had to deal with cuisine issues. Can you imagine your parents not knowing what KD is!? Or having schnitzel and potato salad in your school lunch. The Pop Shoppe was a thing for other kids but we had Sprudel with flavouring concentrate. Wow.

Football is soccer. Until you marry a football player who doesn’t get soccer. Mountains are found in Collingwood or Hamilton unless you grew up near the Alps. So many incomparable comparisons. It’s been a lifelong if exchanging information and experiences.

Luckily my parents are adventurous to a point and moved around the globe to settle in Canada. We are so grateful and proud.

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