WORDS – Lost in Translation? (The Rock Chick)
Experimental Dater The Rock Chick is currently working in Switzerland. Having already broached the subjects of SEXUALITY, GEOGRAPHY and EDUCATION, the birthday girl (yes, today is her birthday! Happy Birthday Rock Chick!) turns her hand to the topic of WORDS, broaching a key barrier of dating abroad – Language.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
I mentioned in my last (somewhat controversial) post, that I’d been wimping out of suggesting dates with potential matches online because of my limited spoken German.
So I’m sure you’ll be delighted when, in the spirit of this blog (and the experimental theme WORDS), I finally manned up and accepted an invitation with a German-speaker. Gah!
Let me try to put this in context:
1) I have a GCSE in German, dating back more than 10 years (i.e. I’ve forgotten it all). Since October I’ve been taking a German course twice a week. So that’s two and a half months of, lets say, semi-intensive German lessons.
2) The last time I went on a bona-fide first date was… I can’t even remember. So, very unlike one or two of the other experimental daters (you know who you are 😉 )
(Miss Twenty-Nine: Bahahahaha!)
I definitely had the fear! Though it was interesting trying to figure out how much of the nerves were due to the first point, and how many were due to the latter.
So I accepted the invitation, and my date proposed a venue.
I’m afraid we didn’t do anything spectacularly exciting, it was the classic, ‘Let’s meet for a drink’, scenario. Added pressure on my ‘small talk’!
Having said that, I must admit that she chose a very appealing little bar, somewhere right up my street. And, I admit it, she is cute.
How did it go? I think, all things considered, pretty well!
Though I wonder how much of that was the fact that the questions you ask when you’re meeting someone for the first time also happen to be the type of questions you learn when you first learn a language!
‘Where are you from? What do you do in the evenings?’ etc. Not exactly riveting, but I was just glad to be able to communicate at all. We had a couple of drinks, and we ended up eating together too.
No one ran away!
Of course there were one or two quiet moments, but she was patient (just as well!). She also turns out to understand some English, so in the very sticky moments we reverted to what I’ll term ‘Deutlish’. It was at times fairly funny ;-).
And on my date herself?
Well, she turned out not to be Swiss (as I’d expected) but German. Language-wise this was good – Swiss German is extremely different to the High German version I am learning. However, such a nationality does rather cue thoughts of towels on sunloungers and over-efficiency. Obviously, these stereotypes are as unfair as that which says all English people are football hooligans. As such, I was pleasantly surprised by how chilled out she seemed to be. And we even had a ‘discussion’ about humour, and it seems she does find British comedy amusing (though I’m yet to be convinced!). The strangest thing I found out was that she goes to the English bookshop in Zürich in order to buy … Cadbury’s. Whilst living in the land of truly fantastic chocolate. Odd.
And so what do I conclude from this ‘experiment’?
Well, on the basis of this one experience, I see two main disadvantages to dating in a foreign language.
The first is the lack of nuance to any conversation. At least at the level of my German, I am reduced to bland statements of facts, and the use of words like ‘nice’.. (Note to self: study more!). And flirtation, well, that’s pretty much impossible!
Second, it is necessary to concentrate so hard on what to say, that it is quite difficult to concentrate on the person you are supposed to be on a date with…
Regardless. We’ve agreed to meet again, so I can’t have been too inattentive. I’m looking forward to it. Though I wonder what happens when we try to move on from ‘meet and greet’ German.
We’d better do something more active and distracting, I think…
The Rock Chick
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