Wednesday, January 23, 2008

University of Leipzig

I'm pleased to have been offered, and accepted, the Picador Guest Professorship at the University of Leipzig. From mid-October to mid-January, I'll be teaching at the university's Institute of American Studies. Two courses: SF and Creative Writing. They haven't yet had an SF writer in this position, so it should be very interesting. I'm excited.

In order to do this, I needed to find someone to watch my dog for 12 weeks (Thanks, Marty!) My life's activities now depend on a spoiled toy poodle with a penchant for McDonald's. I will also need to learn some German, since at the moment I can say "Thank you," "Check, please," and "Where is the toilet?" Useful phrases, all, but hardly comprehensive. Anybody out there know of a good German-language CD-plus-book?

Yesterday was pretty much consumed by arrangements for (1)Germany, (2)frequent flyer tickets to Austin for the Nebulas, and (3) booking a hotel room for Denvention. This last was actually the worst. Apparently there are several other conventions going on in Denver at the same time as Worldcon, and the Hyatt has some days already fully booked at the Worldcon rate. I may in fact be homeless for one night -- this is still unclear. I remember another con, years ago (maybe decades ago), in which the con was sharing hotel space with a convention of gospel singers. The two groups eyed each other in the elevators as if belonging to entirely different species. We were more colorful, but they sounded a whole lot better.

8 comments:

Mike Flynn said...

In Deutschland? Sauwohl! Und ueber dem Oktoberfest! Du musst auch in Wien und Muenchen fahren.

Ich weiss nicht wie es steht in Leipzig, aber in Wien sprecht man allueber Englisch. Leipzig steht in Sachsen, nicht wahr?

Nancy Kress said...

All right, Mike, what did you just say? You're mocking my ignorance of the language!

Mike Flynn said...

I would never mock. Literally:
In Germany? How wonderful! And over the Oktoberfest! Thou must also in Vienna and Munich travel.

I know not how it stands in Leipzig, but in Vienna speaks one all-over English. Leipzig stands in Saxony, not so?
+ + +
There are many useful tape series for getting the basics. I have a handbook of German slang, so I can talk dirty if I want to.

Spoken Saxon tends to umlaut most of their o's and u's and to drop the final -r. But that's nothing compared to the Bavarians or Viennese, who always sound like they've just been hit on the head with a hammer.

There are enough similarities to English that you can puzzle a lot of signage out. Many words are close to English; some examples:
Buch = book.
Buchhandlung = Book-handler (i.e., a book-store)
Wort =word
Seite = page (side)
nachst = next
naechste Seite = next page
Schuh = shoe
Hand = hand
Handschuh = glove (get it?)
stehen/sitzen = stand/sit
fahren = to travel; lit. "to fare"
ein, zwei, drei = one, two, three
(think of "one" and "two" as "own" and "twa".)
The usual greeting is "Wie geht's?" (Wie geht es), lit. "How's it going?" US English picked that up from German immigrants.

But:
Gift = poison

A useful slang term:
Paragraphenarsch = lit. "paragraph ass", a pedantic nit-picker

Dolly said...

If the Gospel Singers had heard you doing your own rendition of OKIE - surely they would have vacated the hotel immediately allowing you full access to any room of your choice. "why" they would have vacated - I'll leave to your decision.

One of many life's questions would be how did a poodle develop such a penchant for McDonald's. Kind of like - Where does your lap go when you stand up? It just never be answered.... how sad....

BuffySquirrel said...

Congrats!

Over here they're forever singing the praises of "Rosetta Stone", but I have no idea if it's actually any good.

And I love paragraphenarsch! Jawohl!

Su said...

Hello, first-time visitor here. :^) Congrats on your guest professorship!

Rosetta Stone was also my first thought, although I don't have any first-hand experience with it.
http://www.rosettastone.com/

All I know about the German language is that when my parents visited my sister (an exchange student in Germany in the mid-1980s), they kept seeing signs for "Zug." Out of curiosity, my mother wanted to head toward Zug, since all roads seemed to lead to it. If I remember correctly, my sister was finally able to convince our mother that "Zug" meant "train." :^)

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Exciting news, Nancy! But please be aware Leipzig is a university city, with antique Marxists painting the town a deep rich red. You, as an American, will be seen as a walking, talking symbol of lost paradise. Be ready to cave in--in self-defense, of course!--a few skulls with a chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Joachim Eckert said...

Don't want to offend you mike, but Vienna is not located in Germany but in Austria. And the "Oktoberfest" is just like springbreak, but not nearly that sexy ;)