Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Syntax (word order) or how to get surprises in a foreign country

Occasionally when I’m speaking in a foreign language, I don’t say what I thought I said.

Yesterday some of my family visited the castle and old city in Bad Homburg.
Here are a couple photos I took:

We stopped for a snack at a small café just a few meters down the hill from the castle.
I thought I asked for chocolate ice cream. But because I reversed the position of two words I got ice cold chocolate milk, with vanilla ice cream scoops inside it, and whipped cream on top. I was surprised when they brought it out to my table. Eis Schokolade is excellent, so it was a good mistake to make.

Syntax, or where words are placed in a sentence, is critical. It not only changes meaning, but can create voice, atmosphere, and tone. It can also mean that you get an eis schokolade instead of ice cream in a cup.

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