Thursday, October 19, 2006

long time no see

sorry, no can do, but just wanted to write back and say that I could picture a "me" that would say yes from time to time. After all, wir sind kaeuflich, right? But that ain't me today.
I tried to teach "long time no see" to some Business English students last night. A couple of the students regularly do business with American companies, travelling to and from and but was gearing to them more because at that moment the other 4 students weren't really paying attention, ensconced in their own fascination to realize that their neighbor also speaks German and it is a much easier language to "quatsch" in. One of them sniffed this phrase at the end because she always likes a good phrase that she can use once or twice in life and write it down, probably for her granddaughter whenever she finds the dusty journal underneath her a french grammar book.
I had to write it down on the board and saw how silly it looked. I then explained about many foreigners came to America and sort of learned the language together but many with different linguistic backgrounds and so it was a unique experience. Some of the most telling or singular phrases were taken over by the "mainstream", like me saying to Sylvia, my boss, yanowhaimsayin? Maybe in 25 years, that will become part of the language that parents will say, but mostly because they grew up with it. It's so interesting how the people in the MTV generation all say "geil" like there's nothing wrong with it but I'd say if you're 40 or older, generally, you feel a bit squeamish and Victorian about using that word to represent what, "wahnsinnig", "fantastisch", and maybe if you're mid 30s "cool".
Here's my point: would a Polish guy or Spanish woman or Chinese hermaphrodite you are doing business with understand "long time no see" as a greeting after not having seen each other for awhile? Do you sometimes teach things in terms of "ONLY native speakers will understand this phrase" and "most people would understand what you said".
This came up from Business Objectives, the little board game you play around page 15 or so. "You see an old friend at the conference. Greet him/her. The students were saying stuff like, "Oh, Hartmut, it good to see you again" which was ok save the fact it was robotic and devoid of emotion. I interrupt. "Oh Hartmut, my god, how are you? Long time no see, you look great, how's it going?" I didn't instruct him to embrace or kiss on the cheek, right, but that's how Americans can easily react. This was important so that if had an American say it to him or a derivative thereof, he would be able to get through the moment without having to show right away that you flubbed his English before he's gotten a chance to process the person just said to him/her.
Anyway, I was in Loerrach today thinking that my weekend started around a little after 4pm today. As I was ending my first class a little before 11am, I asked, when do we meet next week? And about 7 of the 25 said "tomorrow". What? I looked in my journal and nope, didn't have it written down. I checked in the schedule I was given and the students even reminded me that I had the dates on the board at the beginning of the course. Stimmt! Damn, I thought, I gotta work tomorrow. I tried to think of any way to get out of it, push it back to eternity for all I cared but to no avail. And you know what, I'm a lucky SOB for even having that job, even if they do report to the government every single penny I earn. Life ain't perfect, weissh?
I'll try and make it to the stammtisch tomorrow, I still would love to recommend O'Kellys instead if it were just gonna be teachers and all. I'll be getting back into town around 5pm, anyone wanna meet then?
Who wants to tell us about their work day a bit?


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