Zerolingualism: a Weekend in Germany

A couple of weekends ago I went to Cologne, Germany, where I experienced a completely new condition: the zerolingualism. Zerolingualism is a highly technical term and it’s used to describe someone’s complete ineptitude at speaking a language to the point of not being able to tell if his interlocutor is greeting or insulting him. To be fair, this difference is particularly subtle when it comes to German.

Not being able to communicate with the locals, I decided to use my mouth solely to try every single product of every single Backerei (yes, it means bakery!) of the city; so not only Germany made me dumb, but also fat!

I might being overly dramatic here, but you must understand, it is a frustrating situation for someone who speaks two languages (guess which ones), has learnt and forgotten a third one (Russian) and pretends to be fluent in a fourth one (Spanish). In addition to that, all my recent trips brought me to countries where I could at least survive when sober and make friends for life when drunk. But NOT in Germany! In Germany not even the local beer could save me from my uselessness.

And yet, this zerolingual weekend has been refreshing, because for the first time in a while I had the chance to appreciate a language as pure sound, completely emptied of its meaning. Because once you start learning a language, you lose the opportunity of catching the musicality of its words, as you are too busy trying to remember what they mean.

My zerolingualism also confirmed that I was not prejudiced: German really sounds harsh, even when the smiley girl from the Backerei is selling you the most delicious apple strudel!

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