Meine antwortete Gebet (My answered prayer)

I must be careful about what I pray for.  I’ve been praying for a reason to follow my interest, my compulsion almost, to study High German.  Time is precious so I wanted a reason to invest the time and energy it will take to learn it, a goal beyond merely having another “Sprache” in my little repertoire of languages.

I don’t often go into the office of the agency for which I interpret Low German.  I get my assignments via telephone, so there’s German textnot much reason to.  I did two days ago though, to coach a Low German interpreter in training.  On my way out later, I ran into Adela, the agency’s director, and stopped to chat with her.

When I mentioned to her that I’m studying High German, her eyes grew wide, she went all animated on me and began to gesture.  I don’t remember her exact words, but they amounted to,

“REALLY!?  Once you’ve learned the language, do we have work for you!!”

She went on to explain that only one High German interpreter is employed with the agency, and he’s got lots of work.

I had never enquired at the agency about work as a High German interpreter.  I presumed that any European migrant to Canada whose first language was German must be a white-collar professional with English as their second.  Wunderbar!

Now that my wish is granted though, doubts are settling over me like a cold, grey blanket…

It will take me at least a year of intense study just to master good conversational German, never mind legal and medical terminology.  Will the position still be open when I’m ready?  Why would God answer such a prayer, anyway?  How will it matter in the grand scheme of things whether or not little ol’ Tina Wall can tell Frau Schwanke to take off everything but her underwear, put on the blue gown and tie it at the back…what on earth makes me think I can ever become so fluent in a new language that someone would pay me to speak it?  I will NEVER understand German pronouns and their cases.  There’s a black and white creature that sheds fur all over my sofa but is it “Der Katze”?  “Die Katze”?  Oder “Das Katze”?  Wer weiß?

And on they go.  But I’ve decided that my doubts are just that – doubts, not deal breakers, not decision makers.  Besides, once you meet my little mentor, you’ll understand why learning Hochdeutsch is a veritable treat for me.  Or (and this is more likely) you may want to throw up, but in either case, you will know why learning Hochdeutsch is a veritable treat for me.  Meet Heintje.

Heintje photobucket

 Heintje Simons was a famous German and Dutch-speaking child singer and actor from the Netherlands in the late sixties and seventies.  His melodies are simple and his lyrics are even simpler; he sings mostly to his Mama or about how much he loves her.  But his powerful, angelic singing voice, his impossible cuteness and the loving, unspoiled disposition he reveals through his acting roles have completely charmed me.  I retire with ranks of sighing Mütter, nuns and Omas to dabbing soggy handkerchiefs to teary eyes whilst the record player cranks out scratchy Lieder sung by a cherub in an ill-fitting suit, the boy Heintje.gramophone  My understanding of the High German language has progressed rapidly since I began to listen to Heintje music, watch Heintje movies and read simple books by various German authors.  (must find Heintje books.)

But understanding the language is one thing; speaking it is quite another.  That’s what I aim to begin to do, starting now.  God’s blessing on you all; Gottes Segen für euch alle.


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