Sprachgefühl


Sprachgefühl (noun) Origin: German | A person who has the feel for a language.

This literally translates as ‘language feeling’ from compound nouns combining Sprache (language) and Gefühl (feeling). Basically, this does not only refer to a person who has a good understanding of foreign languages but also to a person who has intuitiveness for what is linguistically appropriate.

The truth is, I have no real understanding of foreign languages.  I do have a good understanding and am very intuitive to what people are saying, meaning, or wanting though. I’m perceptive to the needs of others.  Not always accommodating but very perceptive to what they want or need.

I have taken both Spanish and Nepali courses for work.  Nepali was easier for me because it was completely not logical and did not even use the U.S. alphabet but an easier form of Hindi.  I was also able to learn the Korean alphabet when I was in Korea. However, the Spanish language was and continues to be a struggle for me.  There is something about learning a very hard language that makes the teachers a little more forgiving and makes the learning more memorable.  

As you can see, I was a very diligent student.  However, few of the measures I took helped me learn the language.  I just do not have a mind for this type of thing.  I enjoyed the role playing, the music, the movies and I could always get the gist.  But the memorizing of nonsensical words in nonsensical sentences didn’t help me at all.  It was exhausting.

After 7 months of Spanish, a few weeks in Ecuador in a language program, and many folks doing their best to help me out, I was still confusing past, present, future, imperative, gender, words in general.  I think because Spanish is everywhere and you can make out so many of the words, i felt it would be so much easier.

For me it was not.  I cannot tell you how many times I would be telling someone a story about my childhood in Spanish, and the person would look at me and say, “Wait, me?  Wait, you?  Wait, who are you talking about?”  My feelings were that if you did not understand me completely, you should at least understand if you or I had done something.. work it out man.  When i tell you a story about being attacked by a seal…. do you really have to ask “who” was attacked by a seal? I mean, unless you were actually attacked by a seal then yes, that is a great question.  Anyways.  

Once I completed my language classes, I completely enjoyed every country I visited.  I loved being able to even partially communicate in any of the languages of the countries I visited.  It completely changed the travel experience. 

Also, even though I did not quite know all the words, I was able to tell jokes, laugh at jokes, sing along, and carry on broken conversations with just about anyone. I think that having a “feel” for a language is sometimes more important than to be able to speak it perfectly.  Sadly my bosses do not always agree with my philosophy .. and sure they are at least partly right.  I do know that I had fun and I do know that people had fun with me and sometimes at my expense for my communication errors.  In my world, that means total success.

I have been to many countries at this point and in many of the countries I never spoke the language at all.  I think if you looked at all of the pictures below, you would not be able to know which countries I understood and spoke the languages and which ones I did not.  For me, the understanding came with the smiles.  It came with laughing over common states of being.  It came from eating and drinking the same food and realizing that we all had some of the same joys and some of the same sadnesses. 

I am definitely classifiable as a Sprachgefühl … if that is even a classifiable state of being.  See, not even sure if this is a real word, but you feel me, right?

what does the dog say?   Rochelle; Ibonoco; varnika; Rosie; Troy; Debasis; Jim; Rebecca; helen; annette; libertatemamo; albigensia; Cherie; suzanne

2 thoughts on “Sprachgefühl

  1. My husband says I butcher any language I try to speak, including English. However, even my pathetic attempts to speak a few words of another’s language has always resulted in appreciation and delight that I am even trying to speak their language, especially when I am so obviously terrible at it. That alone make the journey so much more wonderful!

    • Absolutely! It’s true and for that I will never stop! My biggest area of improvement at work is communication. And one evaluation I was basically told I use too many words. I don’t know is that a bad thing? Probably! But it doesn’t matter!

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