I heard this the other day and I thought it was hilarious. I think the term exists in English, but I’ve never heard it used in everyday speech – usually it’s referred to in specific political discourse.
How important is your accent when you learn a new language? Obviously you want to be understood, but how essential is it to actually sound like a French-, German-, Italian-speaker? It’s been preying on my mind lately as I try to start using more and more German.
There are languages where it seems essential, such as Chinese where an inflection can change a meaning – but in European languages, it is heading further and further down my to-do list (right under doing my German verb drills).
I spent two years at school not learning German. I had two lessons a week in which I expressly tried my hardest not to remember a single word.
I didn’t like it (or I didn’t like the teacher); I preferred the romance and gallic sentimentality of French, where you could simply shrug a bit and put on an accent. German was all hard letters and aggressive punctuation. Who needs that anyway?
Me, it turns out. I’m pretty good at nodding and smiling – even laughing – at the right moments. But then the inevitable happens. Someone addresses something to you. It is immediately apparent that you have just been pretending for the last fifteen minutes. It’s awkward.
I will have been in Switzerland for six months tomorrow. This time last year I had no idea that this is where I would end up. It is an adventure. And like most adventures, it has its up and downs. Most days I love it, but there are times when I also hate it (sometimes simultaneously). I’m lonely, I’m bored, I miss MY life and the things I did that made me ME. Because whatever those seemingly seamless expats tell you, at first, it’s HARD. But, you know what? I think that’s ok.