Skip to main content

Making a Splash

Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know until you need it.

On Monday I experienced one such moment. I was making my way home from a very slow-paced walk with my very lazy dog when, like in a movie or a comic strip, a bucket-load of water fell from a window above my head, splashing onto the pavement in front of me and splattering my legs. It wasn’t the water falling like a curtain that made me notice what had happened, but the sound of the water hitting the pavement and tearing through the stillness in the street. I looked up, but the window closed abruptly.

I was aghast. Then relieved (another step and it would have landed on my head), and then angry. Who throws water out of a window in the middle of a town?! I yelled up at the closed window, but when it didn’t reopen after a few moments, I continued walking up the street, cursing at my wet feet and looking over my shoulder every now and then to see if anyone would finally appear. Then someone did. ‘Right’, I said to myself, ‘I’m going back down there to give him or her a piece of my mind!’

Yea right. What's the German for: ‘Were you the one who threw water out the window?’ How about, ‘You’d better not have done that on purpose!’? Or even something easy like, ‘You got me with the water, you know’. But I knew how to say exactly none of those things, so instead I said something similar to the following:

          "Excuse me (I was angry, but still polite), did you … the water … the window? 
           I was … under. The water … on me. You must be careful." (I knew that one. I 
           hear it a lot in class).

The culprit appeared to be a girl of about 10, who quickly explained something that will forever remain a mystery to me. But despite my appalling speech, she seemed to have understood the gist of my complaint. A few minutes later, I ushered my dog into the building and considered going straight to a dictionary to look up those words and phrases I hadn’t known I’d need, but then I thought that with a bit of luck, I wouldn’t need to know them again!

Article aid
1. slow-paced walk walking slowly (what would the opposite be?)
2. splash = when liquid falls onto something
3. splatter = when liquid lands in small drops on something
4. abruptly = quickly
5. aghast = to feel shocked
6. every now and then = sometimes
7. to give him or her a piece of my mind = to complain in an angry way to someone because of something they did
8. culprit = someone who has done something wrong
9. forever remain a mystery = I will never know (here it’s because I didn’t understand what she said)
10.appalling = terrible
11.the gist = the general idea

That's a long list of article aids today! Don't worry, stories always have more description. You don't need to try to learn all these new words and phrases, but one or two might help you describe a similar event that has happened to you. 😃


Popular posts from this blog

What's my level?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash A while ago, a prospective student announced, “I’ve learnt until the present perfect continuous, so I think my level is B1*.” This comment  struck me as interesting . Imagine all those hours of study, repetition and practice reduced to a grade determined by a single grammar point. It got me thinking how I felt about my German. What was my level? Let’s see, I’ve passed the B1 exam, so I’m B1. But that was almost a year ago. What does that make me now? B2? How can I really know?  Walking up the three  flights of stairs  to my classroom the other day, I wondered how exactly to say what I was doing in German. That got me thinking even more. I can use the past perfect, but I still can’t use the 1 st  conditional accurately ( though  it was in my B1 course book). I even learnt the second conditional back then. If I can't apply the rules now does that mean I’ve  slipped back  to A2? I ask because I’m listening to an audiobook  aimed at  

A case for cartoons

"Willst du die suchen gehen, Leo?" I called out to the kitchen walls. Two seconds later a disembodied voice from the tablet echoed my question. "I'm getting good at this," I thought with a smug smile. While I was up to my elbows in greasy suds , my 15-month-old sat enjoying his cartoon at the kitchen table. Having seen, or at least heard, each episode three times, I wasn't surprised I could anticipate the next line. This screen time is completely justifiable , by the way. I play the German version, so, thanks to Covid-19, it is currently one of the only sources of German my son is exposed to regularly. Also it, you know, provides some much needed quiet time.  But there's more to cartoons than meets the eye . They've turned out to be a helpful little study aid for me . In fact, I believe cartoons aimed at very small children can be great learning tools for adult learners. Here's why: the sentences are short and uncomplicated, the meaning is gener

Come again?

A man crossing the street approached to ask me a question. "Eshmm hummm gartz?" he said. "The podcasters in my ear grew fainter as I removed the earphone in preparation for when I'd ask him to repeat himself, inevitably.  Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash "Eshmm hummm gartz?" he said calmly. At least one of us had patience. With one hand on the buggy and the other straining to rein in my inquisitive dog, I was quickly losing mine. And now, to cap it all , I had to decode muffled gibberish . "I don't know. I think it's there." I motioned him to a doctor's surgery just behind me. I was taking a stab at a suitable reply and seemed to have hit the mark. I heard a "danke!" before I manoeuvred both dog and buggy around a tree and back onto the path. It was a cold morning and the lost stranger had his scarf covering half his face as a result. Or so I assume. It may have been a makeshift mask. Either way, the scenario reminded m