Seeing that I speak English all day to children as well as non-native speakers where I need to speak slower and with a limited vocabulary, it’s no wonder I’ve lost a bit of my advanced, erudite English. Now I’m just showing off. I keep my vocabulary limited, nonsuperfluous. Actually, I never use words like superfluous. I tend to speak slower in English, except during my daily conversations with Mom and Sister, or with my native English speaking friends here.
What struck me lately is how I am no longer current with the latest American slang.
For example: “Drop the mic”.
I get it, like “Hey, I’m done. I’ve got nothing more to say.” But in a disappointed or frustrated way? Or proud of myself way? And why “mic” – because yes, microphone is spelled so, but “mic” alone would be pronounced like “mick” not “mike” with the long “i”. See, it’s no longer funny when you need to break it down like a non-native speaker.
And what about (non offensive) hand gestures: for example the “Fist Bump”. Was this from Baymax (German title)? I mean Big Hero 5? When are we supposed to fist bump? After something cool or overcoming something together, such as winning a game? A fist bump would never work with uninformed Germans. They would think you’re trying to punch them for no reason.
Please tell me they’re still giving High Five’s in America. Otherwise I’m doomed and my kids will be outcasts for life.
Germans (and I will be so bold to say Europeans in general) love the “Thumbs Up” sign and I use this more than I probably should.
The middle finger used to be my favorite symbol until my husband showed me an article that the “stinky finger” aka the middle finger could cost me a fine of up to 4,000 Euros.
I’ve remained stuck in my pre-1997 US slang from when I moved to Europe the first time. This slang consists of: cool, awesome, “Oh my God”, like, and “Whaaaazzzz Up”. A combination of late 80s early 90s Valley Girl from the Midwest.
The one word I’ve adopted because Bavarians and Germans love it, and which will make Americans laugh is “Super”. I’m afraid to admit that I say it with a German accent by not pronouncing the “er” but instead saying “SupÁ” with an “ahhh” at the end. I feel like “Supah” is a German word.
This to me is the beauty of language. One has the power to create his or her own dialect to remain in a comfort zone while still adapting to the environment in order to be understood. Just as I’ve adapted to my Bavarian lifestyle, barriers are broken down and each party can learn from the other. I may say “Supah”, make grammatical errors in German, and speak a slower, less complicated English than I would in the United States, however, I’m answered with a “Thank you” or “Hello, Frau Tolan, how are you?” in MY native tongue. I interpret this as kindness and acknowledgement of my efforts to blend in and make a life here.
A verbal fist bump, if you will.