TITLE: German vs. English
By Arlene Showalter
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My friend and I had just arrived in Germany and needed to transfer US dollars to Euros. My command of the language was shaky, at best. Hers was non-existent. Stopping at a bank we stepped up to the teller's window. A crisp, good-looking young man stood at attention behind the teller's window.
My first question to the gentleman was, "do you speak English?" to which he replied "a little." I then proceeded to negotiate my money exchange in horrendous German accompanied by much pantomiming with "hands and feet".
Upon completion of task, I stepped to one side, prepared to "assist" my friend. Before our very eyes a miracle transpired. Suddenly the man became quite fluent in English, completing her business without a single grammatical error.
A few days later, stopped by a train station to purchase tickets for our next destination. Again, I asked the standard question, "Do you speak English?" receiving the standard reply; "a little". For the next five minutes the clerk and I discussed several possible package deals in German. Then, to my horror, the gentleman said something that I failed to understand in its entirety. I apologized (in German) and told him (also in German) that I did not understand. My friend piped up, saying, "He told us there are two transfers."
"Wow!" I exclaimed. "Your German is getting really good!"
Her reply; "He said it in English."
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