Monday, June 02, 2008

Good Afternoon, It's the Frau (oh wait, that's me)

Today I had to make two appointments. This may not sound like a big deal, but throw in another language and it becomes as major as the Magna Carta. But I was determined to persevere.

To make sure I did the German greeting right, I wrote it down. Because otherwise I would have resorted to a friendly "hello" and the German speaker would have been thrown off by not knowing who was calling.

I did this pretty well, even included a "Frau" with my name and that was a big step because I really hate the word "Frau". It sounds so dowdy and old. Anyone called "Frau" automatically has gray hair and wrinkles in my mind. So I guess at age 30 I finally fit the word.

I also guaranteed myself success by throwing in a "Guten Tag" with my Frau introduction. This way, they know it's a high German speaker right off, as the Swiss don't usually use "Guten Tag".

It worked well. Both receptionists I talked to immediately switched to high German after hearing my "Guten Tag". I even managed a "weil" construction and put the verb in the right place. This is total victory in German. To be able to say, "No that's not good, because I'll be on vacation then" and not screw up the sentence is an amazing achievement. Trust me.

I understood 90% of the calls, enough to answer every question with only a few minor mess-ups. For instance, the first receptionist thinks my first name is spelled Chental. But that's ok. A mistake I can live with.

The real test will be if I got the date and times right. And only time will tell.


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