Friday, February 11, 2011

Bread and Booooottttter

Everyone always asks how my German is and to be honest, I find it difficult to answer.

On one hand, I have a loooong way to go to be fluent.  I am reminded of this every Sunday when I sit in church, completely oblivious to what the pastor is talking about. 

He talks fast.  And uses big words.  Not a good combo for a person learning German.  

On the other hand, considering my time here in the country, I think it's not half bad.

I can thank the Volkshochschule for that.  For you English speakers, it's pronounced Folks-Hoke-Shoola.

After six months of intense learning, I am now able to ask you about your job, your family, what you like to eat; what I like to eat.  What your hobbies are; what my hobbies are.  You know, the really deep stuff.  
What I can't do though, is say the word that I thought would be the easiest of all when I first saw it translated: butter.

German translation: Butter, as in this stuff right here. 

Yes, it's spelled EXACTLY the same as English, yet somehow, it's surprisingly difficult to say in German.  

When we moved into our first apartment together, we didn't have a kitchen for three months.  We ate out for every meal.  

Lunch and Dinner were covered by our favorite place on earth, Fillipo's, but for breakfast, we ate in a little bakery near our house.  Every day.  For three months.  

That's 90 pieces of fresh, delicious vollkorn brötchen mit butter.  Clearly I don't subscribe to the no-carb, low-carb theory.
Every day, for three months, when we ate breakfast at our little bakery, I had to say "butter" at least 5 times because somehow they never understood me.  

That's 450 times.  I'm pretty sure if you added up the number of times I've ever said butter in my whole 25 years of existence, it wouldn't even begin to compare to those three months. 

Here was our daily routine:

Me: "Vollkorn brötchen mit 'booter' bitte." 
Baker lady: "Mit was?" 
Me: "Booter"
Baker lady: "Wie bitte?"
Me: "Boota? Boote? Butter?"
Blank Stare

At this point I would start making hand gestures of me spreading butter on bread in which case the nice (well, sometimes nice) bakery lady would say  "Ah Booota!"  

Isn't that what I just said?  Seriously, that sounded exactly like what I just said.    

Okay, maybe not exactly, but it was dang close enough.  

And besides, I was there every day for three months.  If an American couple came into your bakery every day for three months, and the wifey ordered bread with butter every single one of those days, then perhaps after the first month you might start to pick up on the fact that when she says some disastrous form of the word butter, she just wants her some good ol' creamy fat to spread on her carbs. 

And it's not like there's anything else you could order at 9:00 in the AM to go with your bread, other than maybe Marmelade (pronounced 'Marmelada') and that doesn't sound like anything even close to butter. 

Those are two distinctly different sounding words.  So, logically, if someone orders bread with something, and it doesn't sound like Marmelade, than it must be butter right?

I've practiced saying it over and over.  I really have.  Even the almighty Volkshochschule couldn't help me with this one.  My teacher tried to get me to say it right.  And even though I thought I was saying it exactly how she did, it still was not correct.  

I just can't do it.  Please forgive me German population, for my remarkable inability to correctly pronounce such a simple word.

Now why do I share this with you all?  See it as a helpful tip.

If you are planning to come to Germany, and you plan to eat some of the amazing bread that they have here, which, of course I'm sure you are planning to do because with about 17,000 bakeries, offering approximately 600 types of breads and 1,200 different types of pastries and rolls, you can't come to Germany and NOT load up on carbs every day, you will most certainly want to practice your "butter" pronouncing skills.  

Here's how.  Go to this link, scroll down to just below the map where it says "butter pronunciation in German" and practice saying butter.  

Practice, practice, practice.  Then practice some more.  

Trust me, it will save you a lot of time and energy.  Precious time and energy that you can spend enjoying more delicious bread like this...

...and seeing more beautiful castles like this:

That's the Disney Castle by the way...or at least the inspiration for it.  It's called Neuschwanstein, and it is a must see if you make it to this part of the world.  

And with the little hike up that you have to take to get to it, I'm sure you exert enough energy to enjoy another piece of bread on your way back down.  With extra "boooooter" of course.


Ande said... Best Blogger Tips

Haha . . . you make me smile! I love reading your blog. So entertaining. Thanks for sharing your life with us. I think you are doing great for living in another country and learning another language. Sounds tough to me. Keep up the good work.

p.s. The picture of the castle is BEAUTIUFL!

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