21 October 2010

Abrupt resumption of posting activity

Language learning is really great. It works essentially thus: you put a great deal of effort into learning meaningless sound combinations, and then all of a sudden you have a new skill.

Today I attended my first ever class conducted entirely in Hungarian. The teacher was talking more carefully and clearly than is usual, but not a lot more slowly. I understood most everything for the first hour, and then my comprehension slowly deteriorated. But it's a start. My task for tomorrow is to explain, in Hungarian, how Americans understand the notion of "state."

This image doesn't give a lot of clues as to how Americans understand "states."

07 October 2010

Crime and racial resentments!

I've been living in Neukölln since I got to Germany. Neukölln is one of the poorest districts of Berlin, home to many students and immigrants. I've already noted the proliferation of casinos and other businesses of low repute in Neukölln, and I may have also written about the time I saw a dude get punched on the street.

Today, I saw an attempted shoplifting. Woolworth is a discount store that is fairly common in Germany (it was in fact originally a subsidiary of F. W. Woolworth five-and-dime, but obviously it isn't anymore). As I passed by their storefront, I heard a women say "Entschuldigung, entschuldigung," and I saw a white dude with a big bag take off running around the corner and down the street. The manager (I think he was the manager) promptly took off running after the dude, and caught him pretty quickly. They struggled, and finally the manager managed to drag the guy back to the store, where he dropped his bag and started struggling again. He would have gotten away, except that racial resentments came to the rescue: A Turkish onlooker rushed to help the manager. As he entered the fray, he muttered "Damit die Leute sehen, dass die Deutschen auch [inaudible]." 

Anyway, I accidentally laughed aloud.