Wilkommen

Last night I twittered in German when I’d arrived:

Wilkommen in berlin. Sehr spät und glücklich mein schlafzimmer zu finden. Guten nacht twitternet :)

however when I got to Rezeption this morning, I really struggled explaining to the waitress what I wanted for breakfast (It didn’t help that I hadn’t decided).

and then this morning I listened at last to Stephanie Booth‘s babelfish presentation, which opened up lots of questions to me but reminded me of why all this multilingualism is complex. We think that we either know a language or we don’t, but as well as the continuous scale of fluency there is also the complicating dimensions of whether we it’s written or oral and whether we are transmitting or receiving. So my level of fluency in German (just one of the languages I pretend to know) varies depending on whether I’m reading, writing, listening or speaking – in fact it seems to me that *my* fluency is represented in that list in descending order, so I’m quite comfortable reading and making sense, but ask me to open my mouth and you get ummm errrr… silence mostly and a lot of hand waving.

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