There was actually a point in my life when I hardly spoke any English. All I spoke, all day long, all week long, all the time, was German, German, German. When my first son was born, I found it hard to talk to him in English because I kept on forgetting the words.
THOSE DAYS ARE GONE.
Now I am one of those elite-but-at-the-same-time-provincial hipsters Jens Spahn despises, who speaks English all the time to people from Spain, France, Russia, Israel, and of course, mainly, if we’re being honest: people from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia, Canada, America (USA-America!) and a few from New Zealand. I don’t know why he thinks we’re such elite hipsters, though. It’s true, some of them have jobs and a few of them have great jobs but quite a few of them are junkies or sex-workers and some of them are on the dole. I think it’s quite refreshing, though. Normally people go on about the Turks and the Arabs in parallel societies and you go: but what about all the so-called expats? People who have lived here for one million years and are still unable to order an orange juice? And they look at you in surprise and shock and horror and distaste and stuff and say come on, it’s totally different. They’re white and have money and are probably not Muslim!
„I would totally learn German!“ My friend Zara says. „I’m just worried it would interfere with my social schedule. Especially in the summer.“
„Just get a TV,“ I say. „That’s how people learn German. That’s why nobody can speak it anymore, it’s all Netflix’s fault.“
„I just doubt it’s really worth it, learning German, if I am being honest with myself. The only people who can’t speak English are grannies at the bakery and how interesting can they be?“
„No, they’re totally boring, I think that’s why all the Germans pretend to be English speakers, it’s just so they don’t have to speak to grannies, ever. He is right, it is a bit hard on the grannies. But you should talk to the homeless people. Not in a poverty pornographic type way, but in a respecting them as human beings type way. The Penner in Berlin are seriously interesting. They all knew Christiane F. Okay, not all of them. But a lot of them. She got around a bit, she did.“
„It just takes so long, learning German, doesn’t it? And you never sound good. And everyone can speak English. That’s what this Jens person doesn’t understand.“
„Yeah,“ I say. „Everyone can speak English. Except for the grannies and the homeless.“
He only said it to be racist, we all know that. It’s not like he hasn’t watched German documentaries about Eskimos or Israelis and noticed that the language they speak in is English. And it’s not like he would be happier if the people from aller Welt were in Berlin, all speaking Mandarin or Esperanto or Sorbish. THEY SHOULD BE SPEAKING GERMAN! But even that wouldn’t make him happy, would it? Because the German Turkish grannies in Kreuzberg speak is always being complained about and the German teenagers on the bus speak is always being disparaged. And even the English that the Swedish translators, Russian spoken word performers and French nannies and Italian sex-workers is speaking is pretty Germanfied. What he really wants (and what he also really wants people to think he really wants) is: keine Ausländer in Berlin.
But still: I do feel sorry for people who can’t speak English, I really do. All those lost grannies at the bank. Blankly staring at the signs, slightly confused, and confused at their confusion. And I much prefer people who speak English out of laziness to people who really genuinely believe English is a superior language to all other languages and all that baloney. Even though there’s a tiny part of me who believes all that crap, too – a much greater part knows it’s just laziness that makes me feel this way.