Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ballsy Denglish Speakers

From I Can Has Cheezburger? (department of desserts).

One source of amusement when you're living in a foreign-to-you language is the endless mistakes you make. I'm sure my husband could regale you with some of my linguistic bloopers, but the humor would probably get lost in translation.

If you speak the globally dominant language, though, you're treated to the natives' adventures with English - here in Berlin, it's Denglish, an alarming blend of Deutsch and English. I had one of those precious moments today.

We were at a memorial for the Berlin Wall that has sort of preserved a small stretch of it, soberly trying to explain to the kids why this broken-down chunk of reinforced concrete mattered so much. In the midst of all this earnestness, the kids spotted an ice cream truck. And so I said sure, why not have a scoop?

Well, it turns out that "a scoop" was nowhere on the menu. You could order chocolate or lemon or Fanta or dino-cola (which made me go WTF? but not enough to try it). Regardless, it came in the form of either a Kugel or a Ball. Or so the sign said. My darling smart-ass husband asked the proprietor, an apparent Berlin native on the far side of sixty, what the difference was, since Kugel and Ball mean pretty much the same thing. They both refer to things spherical.

Just as sober as we'd been with the kids, the ice cream man informed us that a Kugel was, well, a Kugel - the usual German word for a scoop.

And Ball was English - no, American English! - for the same thing.

I was so tickled, it really didn't matter that the ice cream was mediocre or that we were slurping it next to the old death strip.

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