no. 42

A Village Near Frankfort

I’ve known some Germans in my lifetime, lots of Germans in fact. There was Sven, and he was an exchange student at my high school who at first we worshipped and then we hated. There was Jakob, who worked at the same retreat center as me. And there was Michele, who was working at a Christian radio station in Ecuador as a translator while I was there and we became fast friends and went to Tropi-Burger together. There are even others besides that — Oli, Olivia, Ragna. Who knew I knew so many Germans!

One of my favorite things was the way they would say certain phrases, like “make research.” “I have to make research to make a paper.” Another was the fact they still used the word village, and say they were from a village near Frankfort, or wherever it was. Of course, in American English, the word village is seldom used except for in ethnographic studies or in annoying phrases like “global village,” so when someone else used it, immediately I pictured them living inside of a Thomas Kincade painting in a cluster of houses about to collapse under drifts of snow, all made of gingerbread. It was the perfect phrase for me to project every image of what the old country looked like onto them.

I don’t have more to say than that, that even though the word is the same and not incorrect, I understood something completely other than the intended meaning. Sometimes you’re not speaking the same language even if you’re speaking the same language.

This is part of The Exquisite Corpse, a daily writing challenge.