I recently read my 18-month-old a children’s book entitled “Say Hola to Spanish” (that, I believe, translated into English means “The Bologna is Happy”). Afterward I wondered why I never bothered to learn a second language.
It would come in handy right? If I’d learned to speak German (or “sprechen Deu-ouch-something”) like I intended, I’d be able to understand most of Hans Gruber’s dialogue in “Die Hard.”
And I’d be able to do lots of other fun stuff, too. Like:
• Be rude? I’d speak French.
• Flirt? Italian.
• Order Chinese food? Mandarin.
• Read the Baby the bologna book? Spanish.
• Say hello to William Shatner? Klingon.
• Apologize? Canadian.
• Scream at someone? German. What would be more terrifying than some lunatic screaming at you in German? I wet my pants just thinking about it.
I may be past prime school age, but adopting a second language can’t be that hard, can it? Let’s look at the bologna book.
Oh, wait. “Hola” apparently means hello, and not bologna at all. That must be why the guy at the deli counter told me to get the hell out.
In Spanish plate is “plato.” That makes sense. Park is “parquet.” Surprise is “sorpressa.” Dentist is “dentista.” This is awesome. Foreign languages must be English with more vowels. II’m speeaaking aanoother laanguuaage alreeaady. Let’s look at more Spanish words.
Hands are, wait, what? “Manos?” “Jabón” means soap? “Verde” is green? What madness is this? It’s like foreign languages are composed of completely different words.
OK. OK. Maybe instead of learning the individual parts of a language, I should focus on phrases. I did that in junior high and my one semester of German taught me this: 1) you can’t take shots of Jagerschnitzel. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not liquor, it’s breaded pork, and 2) “Ich bin dreizehn jahre alt.”
Sounds cool, right? Just walking up to someone and saying, “Hey, ich bin dreizehn jahre alt,” would blow their mind.
Unfortunately it means “I am 13 years old,” and I can never use that phrase in an Internet chat room.
But other phrases I can use. Important phrases. Phrases I could use every day. Phrases that would get me into – and out of – trouble.
Consulting friends who speak 1) German and 2) Spanish, I’ve mastered the following three sayings just in case I ever find myself in 1) Munich or 2) the United States.
One beer please.
1. Ein Bier bitte.
2. Una cerveza por favor.
Where is the bathroom?
1. Wo ist die Toilette?
2. Dónde está el baño?
I have no money.
1. Ich habe kein Geld.
2. No tengo dinero.
Wow, learning a different language is a lot tougher than I thought. It takes grit and determination, which I don’t have because I’m American.
Maybe I should scrap my Earth language idea and learn to speak the tongue of our future Klingon overlords.
“Wa' HIq DubelmoHchugh.”
Awesome. Now I can order a beer in four languages.
Find out about everything Jason at jasonoffutt.com.