Language Mash-Up

Well, this blog site was originally intended to be about living abroad and the adventures that continue after unpacking your suitcase, but it has rather turned into a compilation of whatever I happen to be experiencing. The truth is, after a while every day is every day, whether you are back in your hometown or living on the other side of the planet.

Each day begins with me cursing at my alarm clock, hitting snooze, getting up ten minutes later, slowly making my way down the hallway, one eye open, turning on the kettle and making a cup of coffee to get the day started.

Exotic, right?

So what is different? What’s worth me writing about and you taking your precious multi-tasking time to read? Well, my day is a mix of language. I no longer have a clue which language I think in – it changes from moment to moment – sometimes making mental shopping lists in German while an exciting writing idea in English plows through. And work is much similar. My team is 50% from somewhere in the world and 50% German. Depending on who I sit next to, I muster up my once familiar American slang, or throw across the table a neatly formulated German sentence, or a joke with a Swabian touch.

Unfortunately, phrases land in the wrong place from time to time – the best being when you don’t notice.:) Such mash-ups recently gave away my lack of concentration during a telco: I was skimming some German articles on the side while listening to a discussion in English. This triggered an automatic German response. What happened? Pure silence. Oops.

woman-1169316_1920As said in numerous posts before:

The best thing to learn when living abroad is to be able to laugh at yourself and cut yourself some slack.

Mistakes are a part of life. So, learn how to make jokes out of them. Hmm… come to think of it, companies looking to transform themselves into agile organizations can learn a lot from expats. If we never learned to go for it and know we will make grammatical mistakes or mixing phrases from time to time, we never would have opened our mouths, gone to university or applied for jobs abroad. It’s a part of our daily lives. Learning for us never stops. Every day I take in new tidbits about the culture and language around me, some more delicious than others.

Pablo Neruda’s take on words:
“You can say anything you want, yessir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and descend…I bow to them… I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down…I love words so much…the unexpected onces…

Three of my favorite books on to topic

Words in the Mind
by Jean Aitchison

words mind






Lost in Translation: Misadventures in English abroad

by Charlie Croker
lost translation






Words that Taste Good by Bill Moore

(This picture combined with some of my other favorite things 🙂 )


3 Responses

  • Shannon Przybyl on March 30, 2016, 22:04:17

    I hope I can one day get to the level where I can “mix up” languages!! These days I find myself feeling like I am a child again trying to learn German. It is really funny because when learning German grammar, I am always asking myself (or mainly the teacher), “why is this…or is it this?” Because I do not have the “feeling” as I do in English. In your native language you are normally not able to articulate the “why” only that something “doesn’t feel/seem/look right!” Schritt für Schritt!!

    Reply to Shannon
    • Micheal on January 19, 2017, 17:45:03

      Improbable though it may seem, not even this will alter the mind of anyone who has already decided to vote Romney. They'll see it as an attack from the &qotL;uiberal Media." I've no faith in evidence anymore, now that I know how tainted the jury is.

      Reply to Micheal
  • Keith Anderson on March 29, 2016, 05:55:59

    I know this mixed up feeling very well. It can be fun playing with the words but I also find it exhausting at times. Concentrating the whole day in a different language can be tough!

    I have two of thos books you mentioned. They are brilliant!

    Reply to Keith