Monday, August 01, 2005

Tower of Babel

It is a strange thing, going from a unilingual environment to a multilingual household. Sure, my friends and I have had our years of Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, etc., but you never heard anything but English around us.

The great thing about my husband's family is that they speak a variety of languages. My husband and both his parents speak fluent German, because they lived in Germany for many years. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and youngest brother-in-law know French, and all three siblings and my mother-in-law(and of course, my husband) speak English. I am sure if I delve deeper I will find more language proficiencies among them.

Me, I am still fighting my way through Greek. I finally stopped confusing papou (grandfather) and pipa (pipe, also slang for blowjob) and learned that you don't want to shorten the name Tassoula by calling someone tsoula (slut). You can imagine the surprise on the movers' faces when I was trying to tell them to put something eho (I have) instead of saying etho (here). Someday I'll get the hang of it.

The most fun, however, is when I visit my in-laws, and my mother-in-law is trying to sort through Greek, German, French and English. Besides Greek, German is her strongest language, so oftentimes her English blends with German. Our favorite Anglo-German mixture is when she suggested we "go for a fart". This made the whole English speaking family burst out laughing, to her dismay. Apparently fahrt is the German word for drive. She has also suggested that we go out "while it is still hell out", the German word for sunny coinciding ironically with our word for the netherworld.

I anticipate more fun with the multilingual household as time goes on, and finding more humorous wordplay as my Greek vocabulary broadens. To my Southern girl dismay, there doesn't seem to be a Greek equivalent for y'all. I'll just have to find cute ways to incorporate the Southern dialect into Greek. I'll have the whole country talking with a drawl in no time.

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