“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

English isn’t my first language. It’s not even my second language. I was born and grew up in Germany – so German is my native language, obviously – and when it was time in school to choose a second language, I chose French (out of French, English and Latin). I’ve had 8 years of French; that is all of high school in Germany. I’ve learned all the grammar that there is which, in French, is QUITE A BIT. I’ve written pages and pages in French. I read novels set in WW2 and I went to absurdist plays (Le Rhinocéros, anyone?) and, most enjoyably, I made crêpes at my French teacher’s very French apartment with the entire class. And yet, almost nothing remains today because I never use French in my everyday life. I can still read most of it because after a few sentences it starts to come back to me. You start to recognize words, sometimes because they’re similar in German or English or any other language you might speak. I could still probably function in Paris; buy a métro ticket or ask for directions. But I’m a far, far cry from being fluent in French. It makes me sad but then, I just don’t really need it.

It’s the opposite with English. I took it as my second foreign language two years after starting French, and was better at it within a year or so. Because English is everywhere. Especially if you have an interest in the Anglo-American world already and, say, watch Friends in the original English, rather than tragically dubbed versions on German television. That is how I learned English, by the way. For real. We had a comically incompetent English teacher for the longest time, and I ended up being the only one who actually knew some English by the end of it because I watched Friends, at home, in English. Then came other shows and movies, and the internet, and I went to the U.S. for a year, and along the way English became my best subject. To this day, everything (every. single. thing) I do online is in English, most of my friends and I communicate in English (because we don’t have the same native language), and I watch all TV shows and movies in their original language (usually English).

I love English because of it’s vast – and in almost all instances: superior – vocabulary. German comes close; it has some fantastic words that cannot be translated into other languages. However, most of the time, I find it easier to accurately express something in English.

I also speak some basic Dutch and some Swedish because I lived in both countries for a while. My Dutch is a little better, since it’s closer to German. I really want to improve my Swedish because I hope to move to Sweden some day. Generally speaking, I just want to learn All The Languages! I am especially intrigued by Arabic and Hindi ever since friends taught me a few words and phrases, although I think any language is extremely interesting because it gives you perfect insight into its culture of origin.

What language(s) do you speak? Which ones would you like to learn?

(Quote in the title by Ludwig Wittgenstein.)


This is an accurate case study of how I spend my Sundays

I was having whole grain pasta for supper today, and when I got the box out I noticed that the text on it wasn’t only in German but also in Swedish. Fullkorn. That’s Swedish!

There was so much Swedish on the box, in fact, that I may have stupidly grinned to myself longer than would be socially acceptable. There was no one else around, though. (This is really why this post exists in the first place.)

I understand how it happened, technically; that they probably also have boxes with, say, French and Dutch on them – depending on where in the EU they will be shipped. But this was still a sweet surprise that, NATURALLY, distracted me from any legit real life concerns.

So I ate my pasta, and then researched flights to Sweden, cried a little really hard at the realization that it’s so close and yet so unreachable right now, Googled images of the Stockholm archipelago in August, cried some more, listened to some Swedish music, sobbed because my favorite Swedish radio – with the original commercials and news bits – is no longer streaming online, browsed Sweden pins on Pinterest, got a sweet message from my friend Maria who is in Sweden right now for at least another 3 months, punched a hole into my laptop screen the air, contemplated watching any Swedish movie I could find online, and ended up watching Alex Skarsgård clips on YouTube for 45 minutes 3 hours instead. Then I didn’t vacuum my apartment.

You would be surprised how normal a Sunday this is for me. Although if you follow me on Twitter, you would probably argue that just about any day of my week appears to consist of the above right now. You would be right, of course. Give or take a plate of fullkorn pasta.

Favorite sweater ever. It’s super soft inside but kinda rough looking on the outside, and it’s The Best Color. This picture doesn’t do it any justice. Also, it’s actually ice hockey fan wear which of course makes it 10x more awesome. Got it after a game I went to in Jönköping, Sweden. Their team is called HV71 which is impossible to pronounce in Swedish. 7 is. It’s barely an actual sound. Makes cheering at the games rather difficult for foreigners. I didn’t care; ice hockey is great fun either way.

(You may wonder why I’m talking about sweaters in June. Summer was canceled this year where I live, that’s why.)