Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nächster Halt, Genf

On Swiss trains, the names of the stops are always announced in German. (German-speakers dominate the country). In German-speaking areas, the German announcement is said first, and if they're feeling generous, sometimes they'll program in the French. But as the train I was on last week got closer to Geneva, the announcement suddenly switched to the French version first, which threw me for a loop because first of all, the female French announcer is much more feminine sounding than the female German announcer. To hear the melodic French statement "Prochain arrêt Genève" followed by a deep scratchy "Nächster Halt Genf" was a little jarring. Somehow, ending on the word, "Genf," just made me cringe.

I've been struggling to learn German for the last two years, and I love learning languages, but somehow, I just can't seem to really love German. It's just not a pleasant way of communicating. Why say, "Genf", when you could say "Genève" or even "Geneva"? "Genf" sounds more like a word for a deformity than the name of a city. But this fact won't stop me from heading back to German class next Tuesday. Because some German words, like Handschuh (hand + shoe = glove) are cute little constructions of various nouns that only a German could put together. But then they have to go give street names things like "Pfingstweidstrasse". And don't even get me started on "Geschirrspülautomaten" (dish soap) or "Rindsgeschnetzeltes" (cut up beef).

So on second thought, maybe "Genf" isn't such a bad word after all. At least I can say it in one syllable. And in German, that's a rare occurrence.

On that note, I'll leave you with a hearty "Auf Wiedersehen". Or as we simple-minded people like to say, "bye".

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