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Old 07.04.2017, 22:41
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I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

I apologize in advance if this is posted in the wrong place. I've never posted anything like this before, but please interpret this more as a cry for help than a desire to lash out at people. The only people who've had a fraction of this directed at them won't talk to me anymore.

I first left the USA and arrived in Switzerland 2 years ago. I've been here ever since, and this post has been stewing in the back of my head for nearly that whole time. Now that everyone in my family seems to be suffering from the same problems, I think it's finally time for me to vent my anger and frustration in the hopes that someone can tell me what the heck I can do about it.

Please be warned that I'm not going to filter my thoughts at all, so if you don't have the patience to hear a bigot rant and rave, this is probably a good time to move onto another thread.

Ok here we go...

I hate German. I didn't realize how much I hated it until I actually had to start speaking and listening to it all of the time. Rearranging words in my head until a sentence makes absolutely no sense is absolutely exhausting. To top that off, you then have to know these god-awful articles for every. blasted. word. in the universe. If you don't, then you can't function.
If that weren't bad enough, to actually function here, you have to also at least be able to comprehend Swiss German, no matter how much German you've mastered. I am really bad with hearing slurred, muttered, or drawn out speech, and that pretty much defines Swiss German to a tee. I've now been around my work colleagues for 2 years straight, and I still can't understand the Swiss ones who choose to speak Swiss German (or is it an attempt at High German with a Swiss accent? I have no idea). When I mean understand, I mean I don't comprehend a single syllable that comes out. Contrast that to my colleague who's from Hamburg, and I understand about 50% of what he says (so long as his sentences don't have 4 verbs piled up at the end, which actually means I understand 25% of what he says)

So quit whining and learn more German, right? I did and have struggled to learn High German for nearly 3 years now, and my last encounter with a tutor (which I really didn't enjoy as usual because I'm an extreme introvert, and all they do is force you to speak something you don't know well while judging you) said that my German is A2. I was really surprised that despite being worked like an immigrant dog and having no time to sleep, let alone drill German words the length of a runway, that my German would ever improve.

So I should be happy about this and strike up conversations with random Swiss, right? Wrong. A Dutch guy once asked me what languages I heard during my tram commute. I think he was expecting me to say German. Instead the answer was: Swiss German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Russian, and other Eastern European languages that I can't identify. Then of course about as often as actual High German you get to hear...

ENGLISH.

Yes, this blasted "universal" language that no one natively speaks and will never comfortably speak, because it's so much easier to stick to your village tongue that is (and this is a direct quote from my Swiss landlady about Swiss German) "a strange language that only, like, 2 people speak."
I flew back to America, and everyone on the plane was talking to each other, never thinking for a second that everyone around them wouldn't understand every word, every nuance. On my short European flights, everything is generally as silent as a tomb, and I get the strong impression from all of the gesturing that airline passengers make it's because no one knows what language everyone else speaks, and they're afraid of not being understood. I know I sure as hell am. This difference in being able to connect and/or communicate is absolutely horribly emotionally traumatizing.

I actually forgot about this for a while and thought people are supposed to suffer like this, where a large portion of the people around you are not reachable, until I went back to America and/or the UK, and everyone everywhere understands you. Suddenly jokes work again, innuendoes aren't missed, and you can express just about anything to just about anyone around you. Imagine that!

I just don't understand how people can live with not being able to communicate like this! If becoming a master of High German were all that's required, then I'd be far far more motivated than I am, but it's simply not going to solve my problem.

My daughter has now been to 2 years of Swiss kindergarten, has had supplemental German lessons, and a German tutor, and she is becoming more unhappy over time, saying that despite all of the High German she's learned, she can't understand anyone and no one wants to play with her. So much for "children are like sponges with languages." Unlike those jerks, I fully understand and sympathize with what my child is going through. I just don't understand how the Russian and Pakistani kids in her class managed to integrate and make friends in months while my daughter is still alone after 2 years.

My wife is doing her second intensive German course, and she's also quite miserable, saying that once she passes her B1 exam, she's never going to do anymore, because her English is starting to get worse and she doesn't have the time/energy to memorize anymore vocabulary with a tight-assed German lording over her with terrible English about how her German is wrong. Considering how it's not really been helping us make friends or even understand anything going on around us up to this point, I can't say I blame her for not wanting to suffer any longer than necessary.

In case you couldn't tell, I don't really like languages. I just want to master a single language and have that be the one I need to use. Everyone I know who knows a lot of languages here has pretty bad English to the point where they can't fully express themselves and misunderstand things they really shouldn't. I don't want that to be me. I worked very long and hard to make my English this good. No other language is worth losing that.

Learning languages is also really, really not fun. There's nothing fun about it at all. The only people I know who truly disagree with that statement love chatting people up and wasting their time running their mouths all day long. That's definitely the opposite of me. I like watching movies and playing video games, and I've had the unpleasant honor of seeing how horrible Germans are at acting and voice acting (and how the dubbing is impossibly fast when it's not German). It makes me appreciate American+English acting way, way more than I ever did before. Their sad attempt at art can take a running jump for all I care. Makes me want to learn French instead so that I can watch/play something halfway decent.

At this point, I'm far more interested in learning Esperanto, since then I wouldn't be a hypocrite about wanting people to understand each other, and I'd probably be fluent in less than a fourth of the time I've already burned on German. I went to a school seminar on how children should learn, and it basically involved 20 minutes of German vocab memorizing everyday for over a decade. That's not surprising, because that's probably not even as much English vocabulary that I know. I am really not keen on the idea of burning that much time on another language that's not anywhere near universal or useful.

Before you get upset and tell me to just leave, it's worth stating that I really do like Switzerland itself. At least, everything about it that doesn't involve people (which is a lot, considering how people just look straight through you, don't talk to you, and keep their physical distance from you like you're a leper) is really amazingly great. The crushing loneliness is...well...crushing, but I'd still trade this lonely place over the noisy, over-bearing, unsafe chaos of America that spawned me.

I just wish this place didn't have such a ridiculously large barrier to connecting to the people around you. Please dear god everyone just go learn Esperanto. If you do, I will! It'll be the last second language we ever have to learn, so then we can take the time to master it and express anything we want with perfect clarity. Life is so much more than languages, I want to spend my life living it, not wasting time learning things I'm not really interested in. (Yes, I studied Spanish for 6 years and Japanese for 3 years. Despite going to those countries, I've never really had to use them because I speak, you know, a more universal language by default. Do I want to have that happen with German as well? Hell no, I've wasted enough of my life already.)

Someone throw me a bone here, what the heck am I missing about this god awful situation. Since German isn't spoken here, should I just skip it and somehow learn Swiss German? (Is that even possible for someone who can't understand slurred speech?) No, what am I saying, Swiss German still isn't enough. I want to connect with more than just half of a country the size of Virginia! That would bottle me up into such a small space. ARRRRRGGGGG.

Maybe we should just get used to being alone. Sometimes it's a bittersweet comfort, knowing that you can be unhappy and no one will judge you for it because they don't understand you.
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Old 07.04.2017, 22:54
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Move to the French speaking part and forget about German- as I have an awful feeling you will never get over that hatred
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Old 07.04.2017, 22:57
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Yea so? Move to a part of the country that has a language you do not hate.

Apart from that, as a linguist, to me every language has beautiful and interesting parts, you only need to be open to accept and learn that
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:00
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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Yea so? Move to a part of the country that has a language you do not hate.
Zurich, of course!
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Zurich
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:04
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Pity parties are every 2nd Tuesday of the month.

Today is Friday.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:07
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Why ever did you study Spanish, Japanese and German if you don't want to speak it? Speak English then and keep it clean. Some people will answer in English, some not. The French, Italian and Spanish I heard in the US - spoken by Americans who learned it at school - had nothing to do with the original languages... maybe it was Esperanto? (Which I can't talk and can't understand)
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:12
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Oh no.. wall of text

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Old 07.04.2017, 23:17
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Italian works for us!

(I also speak the other three, my Swiss wife, not)

Anyway, if I had to choose only one, I'd go for Rumantsch.

Tom
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:25
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

I thought it was a magnificent post.

I can speak German well enough to get by (I'm somewhere between B1 and B2), but it frustrates me that I am obliged to speak like a particularly thick eight year old when I'm so bloody brilliant at my native language.

I'm also scared of losing my exceptional ability to speak and write in English, fearful that I might end up falling between languages like that mad monk in the Name of the Rose. I did often this terrible schicksal fear!

Also, German is a hideous language (schleimhaut? schammlippe? kunterbunt? ). If I'm going to put that much effort into learning another language properly, I'd rather have a bash at Persian or Ottoman Turkish.

So that's why I'm crap at German, and I don't care. I speak the best language in the world already. Anything else is just a hobby.

Klar, oder?
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:30
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Don't worry, it will come to you.
Majority of forum 'oldies' speak one of the languages and probably forgot how they felt in the beginning. I have been here for almost two years and i still persevere with my Deutsch. But my reason for this is - linguistic curiosity. I have my own fun with it, believe me there are many ways to enjoy the process.
Maybe you don't have the right people around? Or your teacher is not very informative on the history and comparative analysis of words?
Also, children copy their parents' attitude: maybe your children see your distaste of the language and copy this behaviour, which results in them feeling outcast.
I know, i sound like a therapist, but believe me, i have been there and i feel your pain.

Don't try to translate things in your head into English, accept things as they are in German - you will start to 'feel' it. You wrote a lengthy emotional message, got it off your chest, now go back to your German textbook!
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:33
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

I've been here for 13 years now and I've just reached B1(3)
It takes a real effort to be this thick but I just figure, if I'm going to do something badly for the rest of my life, I might as well be the worst I can be.

I'm really proud of my achievement.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:36
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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So that's why I'm crap at German, and I don't care. I speak the best language in the world already. Anything else is just a hobby.
That's why we speak Italian, the rest just SUCK!

Tom
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:39
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

Hmmm, I'd love to offer you some empathy as my sympathy has all been used up. But really? Complaining in such terms about how the locals speak their native tongue? Isn't that the nature of being abroad? The emphasis is on you to adapt, not the other way around.

Flummoxed about your choice of moving here really. Just imagine, the French speaking well, French in Paris, the Russians speaking Russian in St. Petersburg and the Scots speaking unintelligibly in Edinburgh. It's what I'd call "local color".
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:43
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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I've been here for 13 years now and I've just reached B1(3)
It takes a real effort to be this thick but I just figure, if I'm going to do something badly for the rest of my life, I might as well be the worst I can be.

I'm really proud of my achievement.
LOL- great achievement- but perhaps not if you are looking for a job here
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:46
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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LOL- great achievement- but perhaps not if you are looking for a job here
Thank you. It wasn't easy but, through perseveration and fierce determination, I got there. It's nice of you to recognise the effort.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:48
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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Thank you. It wasn't easy but, through perseveration and fierce determination, I got there. It's nice of you to recognise the effort.
I'm following slowly in your footsteps.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:50
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

We can agree that this is the longest post that I've ever seen on EF.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:52
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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I'm following slowly in your footsteps.
The other way round, o master. You were my inspiration.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:57
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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The other way round, o master. You were my inspiration.
As I posted earlier today on FB in reply to a topic on quark, once I discovered that käsekuchen has no cheese in it, I decided German wasn't for me.
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Old 07.04.2017, 23:57
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Re: I am so sick and tired of languages, can we agree on one PLEASE

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As I posted earlier today on FB in reply to a topic on quark, once I discovered that käsekuchen has no cheese in it, I decided German wasn't for me.
And you are still alive. An example to us all.
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