Saturday, May 17, 2008
Our son, newly back from New Zealand, kindly offered to go to the supermarket for me.
He did four years of German at school (up to 2000); I did three (up to 1967). As a family, we occasionally converse in what we know is bad German, French, Latin, Spanish or whatever. In German especially, we tend to elide the endings and other hard bits.
Needing money to do the shopping, he said to me, “Habst du Monat?”
“Monat?” I translated mockingly. “Have I month?”
“Ach,” he said. “Geld, then, habst du Geld?”
“Ja,” I said. “In mein Handtusch.”
“Ah, gut,” he said, picking up my handbag (or purse, in American English). Even though, as I realised after a moment, I’d just told him that I had money in my handtowel. I think what I meant to say was "Handtasche".
You might have to know a little German to understand the above, though I think a genuine German person would have some difficulty. Still, my boy and I knew what we meant.