Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Engerbrew --it's a new language

From now on, if people want to communicate with me, they'd better plan on learning Engerbrew which, it seems is all I'm able to speak. What is Engerbrew, you might ask. Ahh so glad you did but believe me, you really don't want to learn this language. It is an extremely frustrating (not to mention incomprehensible) combination of English, German, and Hebrew. When I first got back to learning Hebrew earlier this year all I could do is think in German. Anytime I opened my mouth to try out a sentence or a word in Hebrew the German was there first. Now, granted, I'm fluent in German and I figured ok, I'm just tapping into wherever the second language hides out in my pea brain. I figured the 3rd language would just sort of make its own, separate home in some other happy little corner of my mind and things would quickly sort themselves out.

Ohhhh so not so. Did I say I was fluent in German? Obviously not anymore. My friend Kerstin called me early this morning from Stuttgart...and all I could do was think in really bad and incorrect Hebrew. I couldn't remember the simplest, most common of words like warum, wo. In short, I could not have a conversation at all in German and, since she speaks very little English, we had a very very short conversation. I'm not entirely sure what we did talk about. I could understand her perfectly, just couldn't respond coherently at all.

Maybe, I thought, this is a "good" thing. Maybe this means I'm actually getting better at corner of the mind #3. But no. At my conversational hebrew class tonight I was babbling along thinking I'm making perfect, if grammatically incorrect, sense until I noticed everyone at the table looking at me. Ma, ma? Babbling is right. Aber was coming out instead of aval, as well as other nefarious German incursions and lots of English words tossed in when I _knew_ I didn't know the word in hebrew.

My English is starting to suffer somewhat too. I find that I can't find words --in any language--in the middle of a sentence and stand there for a second with a blank look on my face (or maybe it is one of horror or astonishment but more likely one of total stupidity) until suddenly it comes and I blurt it out in a rush of relief. Thank G-d, I know the word "movie."

Can learning a language bring on the really early on-set of Alzheimers? I know people who speak (fluently mind you) upwards of 5 languages. They don't have this problem. They tell me they never had this problem. Why do I have this problem?? My roommate tells me that it is because I am retarded. See if I help him with his English anymore. I hate him anyway: he speaks 3 languages close enough to fluently that he can outfluent the average native speaker in all 3.

I must have a one-track mind. Or there is a stickler of a customs official in there somewhere who is stopping me at the border and saying, "Sorry, only two complete languages allowed."



At 5:34 PM, Blogger celestial blue said...

I have been toying with the idea of aliyah for a couple of years now, and been seriously considering it over the last week. I am confused, scared and unsure.
I am glad you have found the courage to take the steps. I will be watching your journey closely...

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalom Katie-Yael, I was sure I invented the word Ger-brew to describe the language I use most of the time! I"m flattered you read my blog, and I"m happy I discovered yours...
Lila (from Rungholt)

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