For my German class, I was tasked to write "Was denken Sie über die deutsche Sprache?", the word schwierig (difficult) came to mind. It makes learning French a walk in the park and I've never appreciated my mother tongue more. Oh! Life before articles are simply, simple. Now I am constantly plague with "Is this der, die oder das? Wait, is this Akkusativ or Dativ?" Usually, a good 3 mins will pass before I can churn out a vaguely ok sentence in German. And not to mentioned the constant complaint that accompanies daily revision - "Why can't you be English, American, Australian, Canadian? Anyone that speaks English as their mother tongue? I've mastered English for this purpose." Poor thing, I knew that he sometimes wishes his mother tongue would be easier. So, after a lifetime of drowning and mastering (self-proclaimed) in multi-lingual culture, I have another language to conquer.
Whilst researching on how do foreigners think about the German language, the article "Deutsch als Fremdsprache: Für immer fremd" came to my attention, in German of course. (If you are interested, I have the links to article below - available in German and English). I nodded while reading and kept agreeing with the Author, an young American woman who has been living in Berlin for the past 5 years, but at the same time can't help but wonder " If she, someone who is a wordsmith, is struggling with this language after 5 years, how long will it take me to be comfortable in this language?" and then the last of her words hit me, she was describing a refugee woman but I failed to see the difference between that woman and me:
I wonder whether she will ever manage to perfectly master the Dativ case. And if she does, I wonder whether anyone will listen to what she’s saying, or whether the word Foreigner will be the only thing they can hear when she opens her mouth.Being a person that would love to soak in all cultures that will accept me with open arms, I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be born in one culture that is a mixture of 3 cultures, grew up in another and grew old in completely different one. Languages could be my ticket into these cultures, but as with all things good, there is a downside; this particular one, the more I get to know it, the more it feels like a tool to single me out as - you know it - Foreigner.