November 4, 2010 | German
Forget running; marathon week offers many opportunities for language practice.
It is New York City Marathon week. Runners and tourists are arriving. When I run in Central Park, I look for lost people so I can offer to help.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Looking Autumnal
Central Park Obelisk
Yeah, I like helping, but I admit it: my ulterior motive in this case is non-English conversation opportunities. Otherwise I don’t like to interrupt my runs, since I tend to stiffen up each time I stop.
Yesterday I found a Mexican family—father, mother, two children—who were looking for the reservoir. We had a great little conversation in Spanish about what they should see in the park; it was totally worth the tight calf muscles.
Orange Flags Mark the NYC Marathon Course
Turtle Pond in Fall Attire
I need to get better at identifying non-English speakers, though. Today I offered my assistance to a man and woman near the North Woods who were consulting a map and looking perplexed. I thought they might be Italian, but to my dismay, they turned out to be English-speaking Americans, probably from the Midwest. Oh, well. I helped them anyway.
Tonight I went to a documentary film at the Goethe-Institut, Jeder schweigt von etwas anderem. I don’t quite understand the title, which as far as I can tell (and maybe I’m wrong here) means, “Everyone is silent about something else,” but the film is about people who were imprisoned for specious political reasons during the East German regime. Former prisoners talked about the nightmare of arrest and confinement, about the difficulties they have had discussing with their children the trauma of imprisonment, about the shock of later reviewing their Stasi files.
Twentieth-century German history is pretty cheerless, to say the least.