wonderlanded: (Harold)
[personal profile] wonderlanded
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.

Date: 2006-05-31 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterboy1.livejournal.com
*giggles madly*

I've done that speaking English with an accent, too. Why?? Especially when I'm rubbish at accents.

Auschwitz must be a huge experience. I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts, when you can find the words.

Date: 2006-05-31 01:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pisica.livejournal.com
The phone actually rang as I was in the gas chamber at Auschwitz.

That is a sentence I have never, ever heard.

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.

Heh, me too. And although the only language I even remotely speak (French) is etymologically related to the only other language I even tried to speak (Romanian), the pronunciation is so different it doesn't work.

Date: 2006-05-31 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katherine-b.livejournal.com
*giggles helplessly* Oh, that's beautiful! Particularly your brain quitting. Did you manage to persuade it to come back?

You'll be glad to know that I did manage to make it out to Forest Hill after our lunch together (it turns out F. Hill is south-east of London, so my sense of direction was waaaaaay off!) and had a lovely if full afternoon. So glad we had a chance to catch up!

Date: 2006-05-31 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kylegirl.livejournal.com
I suspect that the speaking-English-with-a-Polish-accent thing might actually work sometimes -- I know I understand French and Spanish much better when they're spoken with Anglo accents.

Last week I kept finding myself slipping into a bizarre exaggerated American accent such I have never used in my life. I have no idea what was going on there.

Date: 2006-05-31 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maju01.livejournal.com
Very funny to read about, but must have been frustrating for you. When I was learning Indonesian my brain used to come up with German words, because I'd learnt German in high school several years before, although I couldn't claim to actually speak it. Weird.

Date: 2006-06-01 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabethea.livejournal.com
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

Oh gods, yes, mine does this. (internal dialogue: "The language here is not English, therefore it is Foreign. So speak a Foreign language. ANY Foreign Language." I am ashamed of this internal dialogue but have not yet learned to switch it off.)

Date: 2006-06-01 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bouncymonkey.livejournal.com
Polish is a really hard language to learn, even when you grew up with a Polish dad like I did. I can still understand far more than I can speak, so just nod a lot :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on going to Auschwitz. It's a really affecting place.

Date: 2006-06-01 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alltheleaves.livejournal.com
Giraffe!

100,000 Icelanders can't be wrong.

Date: 2006-06-01 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-monday.livejournal.com
Heee! Oh, that's priceless, it really is. My brain does the same thing sometimes, I start speaking French and then segue into Spanish for no apparent reason.

Have you managed to get your brain back by bribing it with vodka?

Date: 2006-06-06 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cigogne.livejournal.com
Hee! I'm learning French and whenever I try to form a sentence it's like I'm using the foreign language muscle, and German comes out instead.

Also, hello! Thank you for friending me. I fell off of lj last year but I am getting properly back on again so thanks :)

Date: 2006-06-06 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anglaisepaon.livejournal.com
Hee. I laugh because I've been there.

Also, my sister and I both have a habit of picking up on accents, quite unknowingly, and then turning bright red when somebody else points this out.

Hope you're having fun. Looking forward to vacation photos.
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