Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gayle Tufts--The Best of Two Language Worlds

If you live in Switzerland, one thing that begins to become almost normal is hearing at least two languages used together in one conversation. In my office for example, one person will speak high German while the other answers in Swiss German, or I’ll talk English while my boss talks high German while another colleague’s on his landline talking French (only to put the person on hold to start talking to another caller in Italian.)

When you think about it, it’s an interesting way to go through life, throwing around languages like hot potatoes. But for the linguistically challenged American, it also makes for a very difficult learning environment.

My boss introduced me to Gayle Tufts, an American performer and comedian living in Germany who sings and talks in English and German, using them interchangeably. When you think about it, it makes for that many more great rhyming opportunities…start the phrase in English, but finish it in German or vice versa.

The other advantage is that it lets you use the best of both languages. So you can completely avoid having to stress out about whether a word is Der, Die, or Das by always using “the” instead. And when a German word is clearly more interesting than an English one, like “Handschuhe” rather than "glove", you can use it without offending anyone by using the wrong gender.

Here is a link to a Gayle Tufts performance. Enjoy. And long live the duetsche Sprache.

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