15 May, 2007

Nosiness, big-ass caravans and streetwalkers

Ellen left a comment yesterday asking for more stories about language gaffes. My German is definitely improving, but I still have days when I create horrific misunderstandings-- at least that keeps things interesting.

Some recent examples:

1. Strawberry season has begun and there is no shortage of roadside stands where one can buy 500 grams of sweet, juicy ecstasy. We just can't seem to get enough of them! I am, however, ever mindful of pesticides. Strawberries are one of the "dirtiest" fruits you can buy and I've read that it's best to avoid them if they come from Spain.

Last weekend when I stopped to buy our latest fix I was hoping the produce was locally grown, so I asked the saleswoman: "Woher kommen sie?" (Where are they from?)

But for some reason she thought I'd asked "Woher kommen Sie?" (Where are you from?) And she eyed me suspiciously before admitting that she'd been born not too far from here.

2. As I mentioned in our last post our caravan is ridiculously large. Being Dutch, M has always cherished the common childhood dream of schlepping a 6+ meter monstrosity to the far-flung edges of civilization. It's actually quite obscene. But then again, our new caravan has got a microwave in it, so you won't hear me complaining any time soon.

So anyway, this thing has two axles, which is actually prohibited on some campgrounds so I'm always a bit defensive when I have to reserve a spot.

Yesterday I called the campground to book a place for us for the long weekend. And the conversation went like this:

"Hi. I'd like to reserve a spot on your campsite for this weekend."
"OK, what kind of spot?"
"One with electricity for our caravan"
"How long?"
"Six meters fifty."

Dead silence. "Wie bitte?! Wie lange?!" "Six meters fifty" (a bit louder this time.)

3. Today in class we were talking about Germany's new ranking as fattest country in Europe. We were discussing different options to correct the situation and education came up as an important countermeasure.

The teacher said that one very effective method would be to hire "streetwalkers" talk to people about their eating habits. !!!??? (She actually used the English word "streetwalkers" so it's not like I could have misheard that one.)

(Afterwards I found out that that's what they call people who approach other people on the street to spread public service messages. But I actually liked my interpretation better-- It's so much more colorful!)


Goofball said...

hihi, thanks!

I especially liked the one about the caravan. I wish you'd have seen the ladies face :p

Susie Q said...

Sounds like you're not totally happy with the new caravan?

The streetwalkers thing cracked me up.

We're out of town this weekend but I'll call you when we get back, OK?

Betsy said...

Hi Susie! I do like it-- but I'm just a bit embarrassed about the size. Our last caravan was 4m 65 and was almost 10 years old, and was kind of anonymous. This one is so big and seems ostentatious and that's just not how we are.

The layout is really practical, though, and I really like the kitchenette part-- it's a pleasure to cook in there! :-)

Am looking forward to the maiden voyage-- will let you know how it goes!