Friday, March 31, 2006

Leave my American English alone!

Having people correct my German is a normal, expected, every-day occurence. It's when people start correcting and making fun of my English that I become slightly concerned.

Coworker 1: "You don't have a television??"
Mary: "No, but I have internet and flat-rate, which can be just as dangerous."
Coworker 1: "Haha, you pronounced flat-rate wrong."
Coworker 2: "Yeah, she did: flaaaaaat ray-eeete."

Both then proceeded to laugh and mock my twangy American English.

Pardon? Last time I checked, English was my native tongue. I think I know how to pronounce common English words.

Coworker 2: "So you're saying everyone in Germany but you pronouces it incorrectly?"
Mary: "Ummm..."

A linguistic prof once stressed the fact that language is fluid and evolving, and thus relative. The key is that people understand one another. If a word is pronounced a certain way, and people understand it, then that's the right way. She even argued that there's no "right" way to spell. Please. We all know that without Webster, society and language as we know it would crumble.

It's interesting - many English words have seeped into every-day German... but they're often mispronounced and used in a different context. Americans do the same with certain Germans words that have found their way into the English vocabulary. "Krank" and "Angst" are classic examples.

Oh well. As long as we understand eachother, it's all good, right?

Formula of the day:

(Thanks to quiet afternoons and cappuccino)

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