Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My dad's a foreigner.  I guess since he came to California in 1955 he's been a foreigner. He has a strong accent, like "fresh off the boat" strong.  When my parents divorced about 7 yrs ago, my dad moved to Spain. He's living with his old girlfriend who he knew when he was 17.  When he visited Switzerland, his homeland, he had developed a tell-tale American twang to his Swiss-German tongue.  When he is in America he has his characteristic Swiss accent. In Spain, he is obviously foreign, as he speaks very little Spanish; just enough to order food and beer and get the check.

I just finished talking to him on Skype.  He makes me laugh. He's spoken English longer than I have, and yet he still is at loss for words.  Daylight Savings Time is "summer time".  A cellphone is a "handy".  H1N1 flu is "pig flu".  I can't remember all his little language flubs, but they are charming.  I think he purposely uses some of them to get more help than most people do.  "Hey dad!, count to 3", we would asks as kids. He'd count off, "one, two, shree" and his 4 kids would giggle away.  He can't pronounce the "THR" sound and we never let him forget it.

Summer sausage, also known as Thuringer, gets pronounced Tour-ing-ga, the German pronunciation.  When I order this at a deli counter, I get the strangest looks. Only recently did I learn that most people say "Thur-in-ger".

Ponder the pronounciation of Rosti (royshti) with geschnitzelisch kalbsfleich (my spelling may be off) or emmenceau du veau zurichcoise (same food, different language. If you can eat veal, it's delicous!) over the Rosti.  My mouth is watering while I'm sure my dad is laughing at me and my American accent when I try to speak German.  Not sure I could eat veal these days as I haven't eaten pork/beef for about 30 years, but I'll double up on the Rosti!

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