Achtung Baby Or English, German And.....Elf?

07/12/2010 20:13 | Updated 22 May 2015

A frequently asked question aimed at those of us lucky enough to speak another language other than our mother tongue, is which language we think and dream in. I believe it a common misconception that when your second language takes over your dreams this somehow displays an attestation of language proficiency.

I frequently dream in German. Well, I think I do. Mostly I forget the contents of my dream, within a nano-second of waking. My German is fluent but by no means perfect.

Sometimes I dream in English and often in a kind of English/German mash up.

So, to coin an (American) phrase "Go figure!"

At home (when fully awake and not dreaming) I speak English with Finje (at time of writing she continues to answer in German for those interested in my ongoing quest) and German with my husband. Most of the time. Now, once in a while we do have little disagreements. On such occasions, I have been know to lose my otherwise even-tempered disposition and fly into screaming ab-dabs. When that happens, rare though it is, the unpleasantries fly exclusively in English.

Especially the expletives!

In my opinion the interchange of contentious vocabulary, liberally interspersed with profanities is best suited to take place in English. Frankly, nobody can curse better than we can. We have an obscene word for every occasion. As I once discussed with my (adult) language students, the abounding number of variations for the use of the "F" word is really quite impressive. Is that the case in any other language?

Needless to say, I only drop the "F" Bomb when highly motivated to do so and only when Finje is out of earshot. She, like all kids, appears to have been born fitted with an internal recording machine especially sensitive to such forbidden words. One that does seem to slip out rather too frequently, and I blame this on my Northern roots, is the "B" word. You know the one. Means testicles and ends in 'ocks. I'm not particularly proud of it but at the same time I am from Lancashire and I'm pretty sure it's part of the school curriculum there. No?

Yesterday, whilst carrying a rather full cup of cocoa over to the table, with her nagging mother's words of "Don't spill! Don't spill!" ringing in her ears, Finje, of course, spilled cocoa over the rug. Before I could react she looked in horror at the inevitable and said,

"Oh Hoblicks!"


Achtung Baby
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