New languages are an intriguing challenge. Even when you think you're doing it right, you're sometimes not. Even when you are doing it right, the person across from you is sometimes not prepared for it and is instead listening for whatever they're expecting to hear come out of your mouth. Case in point:
Setting: Berlin, Germany. Bar. Night, during a birthday party. Eli to bartender: Eine pilsener, bitte? Bartender with confused look: Huh!? Eli cautiously: Um...Eine pilsener, bitte? Bartender: Huh!?? Eli: Beer. Bartender: Ahhh! Eine pilsener!
True story. Similar instances in Poland over the last few weeks, where the language proved exponentially more difficult that German, were too many to count, if less quotable, and I expect more of the same in the next few weeks as we try our best with Czech.
We've found ourselves marveling at so many of the people we've met who have anywhere from two to seven languages under the belt, while we plod along trying to hang onto one and a half. It's inspiring, for the most part, but the moments where you digress to pointing and grunting and meek smiles are one of the more cherish-ably awkward quirks of traveling so far. The title of this post, Ponglish, comes from our Polish friend Artur, who spoke English fine, but nevertheless seemed to have similar observations.
Location:Olomouc, Czech Republic