Saturday, September 8, 2012

My name is Marjolein, but I may be saying it wrong...

I have no head for sounds even in my own language. I once went through an entire speech in debate club pronouncing fanatic, “fan-a-tick”. My sister regularly catches words that I pronounced incorrectly and kindly corrects them by smirking and asking me to repeat what I said and smirking again. My mispronunciations may be due to spending more time in my youth reading than talking to other human beings.

Anyhow, this is relevant because I’m now living in international housing. C’est merveilleux! Going by my history, a third language seems as unlikely as the Dutch winning the world cup, but hope springs eternal. I’m listening to a lot of “French for Dummies” and butchering everybody’s beautiful language with “Inglorious Basterd” level gruesomeness. In the meanwhile, I’ve also learned some fun facts on other people’s languages. Keep in mind that everything on the list should be disclaimed with  “in general” or “the one guy in our house from that country”

1.     Germans have word for being happy because somebody else’s good fortune. And you thought they were just sitting around feeling schadenfraude.

2.     Scandinavians speak ridiculously good English, better than a lot of English speakers, myself included.

3.     It’s hard to differentiate if a Greek is saying “beach” or “word that rhymes with witch”. I can only hope that, in real life, context will help.

4.     Some very-bad-words in English aren’t very-bad-words in Dutch. I'm sorry, but I can’t be more specific.   

5.     Portuguese people think that English sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking.

6.     Germans think Dutch sounds like little children talking.

7.     Spanish has a word for being somewhere between sober and drunk (No, I’m not counting tipsy as a word)

8.     Belgium’s say “if you’re hot” sometimes instead of “if you want to”. It’s very funny.

9.     Half of the words I learned in China are only appropriate when addressing babies. What a waste of a word.

10.  In most of the world, “bilingual” is prefixed with “only”. 


  1. Ni hao works for everyone..... haha only bilingual... im a lame monolingual person.:( jealous of your adventures!

    1. plus "wo shi weigueren". because otherwise how would they ever know? : )