Language Failures

Posted by Maya

In Europe these past few weeks, we’ve been doing a thing that I call “country- hopping”.  This is when you move to a new country every few days.  Country- hopping is great: it lets you see many beautiful sights without staying in one place for so long that it gets boring.  Personally, I love this.  There are, however, a few drawbacks, mainly regarding the language barrier.  Moving around so much leaves absolutely NO time for learning languages!  This has created a couple hilarious (and very embarrassing) stories.


  1. On our way from Paris to Ludwigsburg, Germany, we stopped for two nights in Reims, France.  One morning, I had finished my math and had some time to kill.  I decided to walk around the main street of the town (both of my parents were doing school work with Eva and Rikki, so I was alone).  I walked into a shop, not looking for anything specific, just browsing.  All of the sudden, I was ambushed by two salespeople.  They started jabbering away to me in French while I stood there, looking very confused.  Finally, they had both finished talking to me and looked at me expectantly.  I had no idea what they wanted from me- I speak about 10 words of French, maybe less.  So, I did what any other non- French speaking thirteen year old would do: I turned and walked out of the store.  Language failure number one.
  2. Right before we left Germany, our friend Petra Muller took us to a mall/super market to stock up for the drive to Switzerland.  Eva and I had just learned how to say “bye- bye” in German, and were sort of obsessed with the word.  It sounded a little to us like “cheeses.”  
    We were trying (and failing) to say it with a “heavy German accent,” when Petra turned around and gave us a strange look.

“Where did you learn that?” she asked us.

Eva and I shrugged.  “We thought we were saying good-bye,” I offered.

Petra chuckled and told us that, instead of saying good-bye, we were saying sh** in German.   Eva and I laughed so hard that neither of us could breathe, I was still pretty embarrassed.  Language failure number two.

I know that I am going to put a little more effort into learning the languages of the next places we go.  Maybe, I just learn the word NOT to say.  Either way, I am going to work hard to minimize these kind of situations.  I’ll keep you posted it they so, though.  (Woops, typo, language failure number three.)


Categories: France, Germany | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Language Failures

  1. Maya, we so loved reading about your recent language exploits.
    Ah gesundt auf dein keppeleh
    Ah gesundt auf dein pupik.
    Say hi to all the other Goldmans.
    Love, Grandpa and Monga

  2. Sari Grossman

    That sounds like a very Maya/Sari-ish story! HAHA I miss you, Goldmans!

  3. laurie sabin

    Hi Maya,
    I love reading your entries on the blog! It sounds like you are savoring every experience. Have fun country-hopping. We miss you. By the way, the Tigers are in the playoffs.

  4. Nice piece on language issues, Maya. Just SMILE–it’s the universal language–and learn how to say “Do you speak a little English?” in every language!

    Hi, Amy and David! Happy Sweet New Year to you and your family! Please check your e-mails if/when you have time, as I left info about the Community Fdn. This is my last week there, and I will begin at Hebrew Free Loan next Monday, 10/10.

    All the best, David C

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