Aeroplane, Avion, FLUGZEUG!!

I shopped around during my first few weeks at Wheaton my freshman year trying out a few different language courses. Because of Wheaton’s two-semesters of a foreign language prerequisite, I wanted to pick one that interested me. I tried to Intro Arabic – I have never felt so dizzy trying to keep up with my professor writing from right to left on the blackboard. I went to French and remembered (and not so fondly) the many hours I spent in middle school laboring over vocabulary and false cognates. Finally, I tried German and immediately felt at ease amongst a class full of lighthearted, giggly students. But the lessons early on were fun for a peculiar reason: us students who had little-or-no experience with german were laughing about how the language sounded. Our professor would speak with the sharp consonants, the glottal R’s, and the aggressive intonations that are customary throughout much of the german-speaking world. When we attempted repeating an especially german-sounding syllable, we would usually laugh, maybe as a way of decompressing after an uncomfortable situation. Of course, it didn’t take long before we discussed some of the terrible and tragic events that are immediately associated with Germany in conversation (in fact, we may have spoken about Hitler and Nazis on the very first day of class) and I think it was crucial that we talked about the history because while I’m the first to admit that the german language isn’t the most beautiful foreign language out there, I think thoughts about the language are often tied too closely with Germany’s troubled history. I studied abroad in Regensburg, Germany for 6 months last year and I have to say, some germans actually make the language sound super beautiful! Now if only the germans borrowed some of those sultry vowels from the romance languages…


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