Feeling the High (German)

Sprechen sie Deutsch?  Yeah, me either.  That is, I speak Low German (in that language the question reads, “Räd’st dü Dietsch?”), but not High German.  I wish I did.  I’ve been listening to Peter Schilling this week who is even more talented, handsome and quietly self-assured in his fifties than he was in the freaky science-fiction phase of his career in the eighties.  The trouble is that he sings mainly in High German.  I can read the language but I don’t understand most of the words I’m reading (a small oversight on the part of my childhood Sunday School teachers).  I grasp only enough to make me even more curious to know what Herr Schilling is crooning about.

I long to study this austere, scholarly sounding language, but I need a reason beyond the ability to serenade the chickens with “99 Luftballoons” every morning.  How would I use my newfound knowledge?  What would I read; to whom would I write?  How would it be to the glory of God and the betterment of my fellow-man and me if I were fluent in High German?  I must try to compile a list of reasons.

1.  I could write Peter Schilling a fan letter in his mother tongue.

2.  As well as being an avid reader, my mother speaks and writes High German.  The next time she asks me why I never visit, I could say, “Mutter, ich weigere mich dies Sie besuchen mehr als fünf mal für jedes mal wenn sie mich besuchen.” (“Mother, I refuse to visit you more than five times for every time you visit me”, thank you online translator).  To see her jaw drop would be worth the two years it would take spent with my nose stuck in Die Mennonitische Post.

3.  I could understand what I’m singing when I attend the German worship service at church.  The message is preached in Low German, but we sing mainly High German songs.

4.  I could bake apfelstrudel.  Sure, you can get the recipe in English, but who knows what can get lost in translation and completely ruin an authentic apfelstrudel?  2 kg äpfel, 2 kg apples…it’s pretty dubious…right?  Hmm.

Maybe I’ll pass on the High German, for now at least.  Excepting number 3, I don’t think my reasons impress God or my fellow-man.  It’s okay though.  I’m not without other, more productive interests to pursue.  Besides, Peter Schilling could sing the classified ads backward and I’d still crank the volume.  Es is alle gut.


4 responses to this post.

  1. It never hurts to better oneself. Although I’ve yet to chase my dream of learning Gaelic, my ancestral tongue, so I guess I’m not one to talk….at least Gaelic.


    • Yeah, the problem is that I want to do many things, so I have to pick a few and do them well.
      Gaelic, eh? I’ll be the language is as wonderful as the culture. Did your grandparents ever say “God save all here” when they entered a room?


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