Ich bin ein Berliner. Puppenspiel? Sehr güt!

By Chris Tait

Vollen Sie ein bier? Ich bin Kanadier. Sie sein ein sexy Engeline. Wo ist die Badezimmer?

This is the extent of my knowledge of the German language. Ah, girls: always motivating you to learn things for all the wrong reasons. To anyone who can actually speak German: you know how much trouble there’s going to be when I hit my first German bar. Pity me.

Das berühme Puppenspiel von Dr. Faustus (or The Famous Puppet Play of Dr. Faustus for us English speakers) played to a packed Craigie lecture audience last Friday. Put on by the GERM 401 class, German Translation, Dr. Faustus was the class’ major assignment for the semester.

In fact, it was this same class that first put it on 11 years ago, which is where this year’s incarnation inherited most of the puppet materials. After a few alterations and improvements, the puppeteers were assigned to translate the entire play and then put on the performance.

Of course, they had to present it in the German format, so as to create the most confusion possible for those of us who couldn’t ask for the time, let alone understand an entire play in German.

The comical play drew laughter from the many German-speakers in the audience, as well as a few half-laughs from those who were pretending. The rest just tried to figure out what the hell was going on.

Give you one guess as to which group this wannabe German-speaker fits into.

However, the play was also amusing to those of the audience who are simply learning. Thank you, slapstick comedy and explanatory programs.

The challenge of learning a second (or third) language is definitely lessened the more one gets involved in listening to and, hopefully one day, speaking that language in its native environment. The next best thing to actually being in the environment is to interact with people who have come from that background.

Bist du müde? Du hast in mine Kopf den ganzen Tag gelaufen. If only life had subtitles.

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