Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've Had Enough

One thing I’ve learned by living in Switzerland over the last two years, is that it’s good to have a line already prepared when people ask you about your language progress. Not only does a fancy one-liner make you sound practically fluent, but it also demonstrates a great interest for trying to understand the culture (even if your only real purpose in doing it is so people can’t talk behind your back at work).

Anyhow, mine is, “Ich lerne jeden Tag ein bisschen.” (I learn a little every day). Try it sometime and watch how impressed people are.

But I think this phrase really is true if one works in a German speaking office. You just start picking up little sayings you hear over and over again or that you read in e-mail.

A lot of what I’ve learned is marketing speak, which, while it’s helping my German, it’s not doing much good for my English. German phrases like “photo shooting” instead of the English “photo shoot” are really too close for comfort.

“Keep on rocking” is another great German phrase that appears in between other long indistinguishable collections of 15-letter words. And “one night stand” is also German, apparently.

But yesterday I learned my favorite office terminology yet. It is, “Es scheisst mich an.” Literally, it means, “It is shitting on me.” But the correct translation is, “I’ve had enough.”

Wow. This is one of the most useful, versatile phrases I’ve learned yet. And sadly, they just don’t teach these kind of things in German class, as they’re too concerned with how offensive it was that you referred to your computer as a girl instead of a boy to really teach anything useful.

But I digress. “Es scheisst mich an” is not just perfect for office use, but also for everyday expat life as well. For that scary letter from the Rathaus that you just can’t quite read. For that collection of people that have to light up even though they’re tightly surrounded by others on an escalator. And for that now molding food you just bought two hours ago.

Instead of ranting and raving in English, try your new German phrase to feel better fast. Or better yet, when the 10th person of the day asks you about your language progress, look them in the eye and give them a nice “Es scheisst mich an.”


Jessica said...

Yessss... That is exactly the new phrase I need to be using at the office.... all these English cuss words here and there are just not impressing them enough. ;)

Chantal said...

Yes, it is very useful!

Unknown said...

I may have to adopt that phrase

Chantal said...

And the best part is, no one will have any idea what you're saying in AZ!


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