May. 31st, 2006

wonderlanded: (Harold)
My dad rang today. (The phone actually rang as I was in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Thankfully, I had switched the phone to silent and called him back later. More on the visit later when I have collected my thoughts about it.)

I was very glad I managed to find the English language to speak to him, because I seem to have lost it due to my brain being steeped in Foreign. Polish continues to be difficult, though I have added thirty or so words to my vocabulary, with no help from the Dorling Kinderley Polish phrase book, which actively and maliciously LIES about the Polish for words like 'station'. My brain is doing what it did when I was in Italy, which is to search any and every other foreign language with which I have a faintly passing acquaintance and spit it out at inappropriate moments. F'rinstance, using 'ja' or 'da' in a country where the equivalent is 'tak' is probably not helpful. (And 'da' sounds uncommonly like the Polish for 'two', which is just confusing to the person who is trying to sell you something or give you directions.)

Amusing experience buying train tickets this morning. My Polish failed me (unsurprising, as I was not trying to buy vodka) and I accidentally segued into German. (Alice's subconscious: 'Can't find Polish. Germany is next door. Try German.')

The very nice ticket lady turned out to be reasonably conversational in German. (Alice's rational brain: 'Oh, bugger. You don't speak German very well at all, you idiot.')

I then made a valiant save and found my English. Which I proceeded to speak with a strong Polish accent, confusing both myself and the nice ticket lady further. (Alice's brain: 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU FOOL? I QUIT.')

Incidentally, I suspect I would have done much better by affecting an American accent, as my mixed-up-vaguely-RP accent seems to be muddling to most people.

Interestingly, I'm not using French at all -- which is the only other language I speak at least passably. My brain, apparently, thinks that French is unlikely to be palatable here. Why it thinks that Italian, which I barely speak except for opera, is okay is beyond me.

I think I am going to start telling people I am from Iceland, to explain both funny language and lack of fluency in any known language. Only with my luck, the people will turn out to speak fluent Icelandic due to spending their adolescent years in Rejkavik.

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