Sunday, September 26, 2010


Sri and I have a difference of opinion on why English is the predominant language of global communication today. We both agree that the stage was set by the British Empire in the few centuries preceding the last, but here we diverge a bit. I think the rising star of the United States as a cultural power since the turn of the last century, and certainly since the last Great War, has played a major role, especially as the form of English spoken in most of the world is currently replete with Americanisms (as we Commonwealth-educated ferners would describe US pop lingo). Sri thinks that English is a more accommodating language. He cites, as an example, the fact that French never quite borrowed the wide range of loan words that English seems to have done in colonial times. I countered that Spanish apparently did so, but has not achieved the wide-spread use of modern English. At this point in the discussion, we parted ways, at the intersection of Lehrer Stieglitz Str and Freisinger Landstr, since I, for one, was getting a bit too wet from the gentle Bayerisch rain. Sri appeared to be nonplussed by the weather in his fine black sport jacket. The dialog will no doubt continue, but let me bring up two points for the reader:

 a.) What the heck does a loan-word mean anyway? Is a language meant to give the word back to the rightful owner, or does the ownership pass to the new language when the old one is dead, or something such?

 b.) My decision to personify a language, as if it were French that did the actual borrowing (or lack thereof), is regrettable, but, hey, it makes the point, right?

As you may have guessed, discussions of language crop up quite easily when you have just moved to a new land. In this case, Sri and I had ordered kaffe at the Cafe Rathaus and I could tell that the woman behind the counter wanted to be friendly and make conversation, but our German was too poor (read non-existent) to serve this purpose, and it led to some embarrassment, at least to me (Sri's skin is thicker). This situation will occur time and again, I am sure. But I am resolved to fight this actively by working on my Deutsch. It's the least bit of respect I can give to the people of my new home.

It's been a rainy and grey first weekend, but I can see hints of distant bluishness in the fractal holes of the clouds outside my window, so maybe the weather will improve today. I wish I had my bike - as far as I can tell, it's safely in storage at the Munich Flughafen, probably till tomorrow. A ride would do wonders for my soul. Ah well, at least I found a website with US TV shows and, since I went to the store yesterday - despite the weather, I might add - I have coffee, clementines, cheese and, leberwurst(?). Guten morgen, Sonntag!

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