Bengt Washburn on learning German vs. learning Chinese #DryBarComedy

Bengt Washburn on learning German vs. learning Chinese #DryBarComedy

November 21, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


I went to Germany. It was culture shock.. Germany. The language. I dove into the language. Intensive German. Six months, two thousand bucks, totally worth it. Because I now speak the language like a three-year-old with a severe speech impediment. I could not talk for three and a half years. That was Germany. My friends would ask, “What’s it like? What’s Germany like?” “Well it’s like I’ve had a stroke.” I cannot talk. I thought I’d learn the German. My friends told me I would. Well not all my friends. Just my friends who only speak one language. They know how easy it is to learn a second language. And they’ll tell you, “Oh you’ll pick up on the German, Bengt, because you’ll be immersed in people speaking German.” Well, guess what, buddy. You’re not immersed in people speaking German. You’re immersed in people speaking English “With a German accent.” (In German accent) So no progress. This is my German But amazing progress. That’s my German accent now. I am not bilingual but I can sound bilingual. Ja it’s wunderbar! Its great. Now I use my accent to impress the random strangers. I can just use here to impress people. “Ja I will der fries with der hamburger. Thank you for der good questions you making now.” “Gee your English is excellent!” “Why thank you! Wow-ee! First time I hear deis. Wow! Thank you!” “That’s just because English isn’t your native language.” “No, deis is because I am from Utah. I never hear deis before.” Couldn’t complain either. Not learning German; you can’t complain. This is what’ll happen. If I complain about not learning German this is what I get, “Well, be grateful you’re not learning Chinese.” Grateful? Why would you bring that.. Why would you bring up something I could never do? i’m not even learning German. Why would I.. “Be grateful you stink at something that’s kind of easy. You got that going for you. You could be failing at something that’s hard, but see this way you feel stupid and disappointed. You should be grateful.” Chinese is harder than German. German is technically kind of easy. Grammar is hard. But there’s similar words to English. Same alphabet. Whereas, Chinese is insanely difficult. There’s no similar words or sounds and…and you have to learn their alphabet. We don’t share an alphabet. And it’s not just 30-40 letters. You want to be fluent in Chinese you are going to have to memorize about 44,000 subtly different drawings of sheds, broken furniture, yoga poses, occasional waffle iron. That’s what I see. Like if I look at the menu, “How spicy is your ‘broken television’? Really? Well, then I will take the ‘downward dog’ …again. I’m a menu coward” Chinese is crazy. So many sheds. I think Chinese is the only language on Earth in which you can write an entire sentence accidentally. You can just… “Whoops! I’m literate how did that happen?” Sometimes, the shed drawing will be a whole phrase or sentence. You have to memorize the shed with the sentence. “Oh, ok. The broken step ladder next to the guys with golf club with the two seagulls on the park bench with the roof shed drawing.” “My foot hurts.” “Oh wait, there’s a chimney on the shed.” “Your foot hurts.” “There’s a chimney; it’s your foot. When it…Wait there’s smoke coming out the chimney.” “We’ve got a new Pope.”