There is no German word for underachiever

“To unlock a society, look at its untranslatable words”.  Right.  Schadenfreude, anyone? No? Doch! (Au contraire just doesn’t quite pack the same punch). Lately I’ve begun focusing myself more diligently on Spanish and had to laugh today when my second private lesson with Hugo, my new Mexican tandem partner, turned to family topics and the word hijo came up.  It was coincidentally the very same word my students struggled with pronouncing today as they learned about illegal immigration from Mexico to California through a series of English reading and listening comprehension stories about “the Morales family”.  Why doesn’t German or English have a word for tíos? It’s like if we had the word auncle to combine aunt and uncle.  A surprisingly awkward-looking word.

To return to the one of the Fulbright Program’s goals, the development of German-American relations, I learned two things recently:

1. 7th grade German boys, when asked why they want to live in America, will respond with, “because there are sexy girls”.

2. To the best of my knowledge, there is also no German word for overachiever. No wonder they have a hard time defining me ^_^

^Do correct me if I’m wrong, won’t you?^

My poor sixth graders are under a bit of stress at the moment, as it’s come the time to be eingestuft, meaning that they’ll receive recommendations as to whether they’ll be placed into the Haupt-, Real- or Gymnasialschulzweig. (To avoid being confused between the three, see the first paragraph in this post). Teachers fight on behalf of students they think will succeed more in one level or another, and parents have an input to some extent as well. It’s a huge decision to be made for someone at the age of 12, so it’s nice to notice how meticulously the evaluation process is carried out. I just hope there aren’t too many tears at the end of next week when the mid-year grades are given out!

Hmmm…what am I forgetting? Achja, the artistic developments. I auditioned for the play Dial M for Murder (later made into a film by Hitchcock) yesterday and the day before yesterday. It’ll be put on by an English theatre in Gießen in the end of April, putting tech week smack-dab in the middle of my lovely two-week paid vacation. Though I auditioned mostly on a whim, the realization that it had been almost exactly four years since I was last in a proper play did provide extra motivation. I guess I was also curious to see how non-native speakers dealt with theatrical texts; we were asked to do a bit of improv and a cold reading from the script with randomly selected people, and it was crazyweird to hear how stilted/comical/exaggerated many of the scenes were (Schadenfreude again already, twice in one post?!). For better or for worse, it made me feel uncharacteristically relaxed when it came to my turn. I’m not sure how invested I am in being a part of the production…like I said, the timing of the show isn’t ideal as I’ve been mulling over the idea of visiting Prague, Krakow, and Budapest during spring break. Updates to come (straight to your inbox in fact, if you care to subscribe by clicking “Sign me up!” up there on the right).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Vienna comes first. And by that, I mean…tomorrow.

………well, I have to keep you on your toes somehow, don’t I?

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5 thoughts on “There is no German word for underachiever

  1. “To the best of my knowledge, there is also no German word for overachiever”

    “There is no German word for underachiever”

    Which one do they not have a word for? I GOTTA KNOW

  2. This actually reminds me of a cool German world I learned last year in a journalism class: Gesamtkunstwerk. It was useful for us when we had to write reviews of concerts, plays, CDs, etc. and wanted to talk about not just one aspect of the work but “the whole shebang.”

    French doesn’t have a word for overachiever either. They also don’t have a word for lap as in the part of your legs that disappears when you stand up. Or clockwise, time-consuming, cheap etc.Teaching English has made me realize how rich our vocabulary can be!

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