Friday, March 4, 2016

Lessons in Luxembourgish: Literally!

Freideg, 4 Mäerz.

Well, folks, it has finally happened. The day that some predicted, but that many -- including myself -- thought might never come. That's right: I have finally started learning Luxembourgish.

Last semester, as you might remember, I took a weekly German course through the University of Luxembourg Language Center, or ULLC. At only ninety minutes per week, the course was neither particularly challenging nor time-consuming, but it gave me the opportunity to keep working on my German. (And, because yours truly passed German B1.3 with flying colors, I even got a nifty little ULLC certificate!) This semester, the only German class being offered at my level was a weekly conversation course ... which sounded intriguing until I remembered that I currently LIVE with three native German speakers and that my entire life could be a German conversation course, should I choose! However, in a lucky turn of events, the university is offering free introductory courses in Lëtzebuergesch and my housemate, Dikra, and I decided to sign up. (A translation/summary of our WhatsApp conversation about the matter: "OMG TAKE LUXEMBOURGISH WITH ME." "OMG YES OKAY WHEN YES.") And that's how I wound up spending every Wednesday evening at the Limpertsberg Campus, copying down vocabulary words and repeating obscure phrases and giggling over the fact that, in Luxembourgish, cadeau is spelled Kado. (Like, seriously?)

So, what have I learned so far? Well, to begin with, we have tackled some greetings.
Moien = Hello!
Gudde Metteg = Good morning
Gudde Mëtteg = Good afternoon
Gudden Owend = Good evening
Gutt Nuecht = Good night
Awar an nach e schéinen Dag! = Goodbye and have a nice day!
Luckily, while French people must constantly be aware of the exact time of day in order to avoid the unpardonable offense of wishing someone a "Bonne soirée!" when it is still journée,  Luxembourgers can get away with saying "Moien" at all times. In fact, it is only the conductors on evening trains who I have ever heard say "Gudden Owend."

On our first day of class, we also learned how to introduce ourselves. You know, to all our Luxembourgish friends.
Wéi heescht Dir? = What is your name? (formal) 
Ech heeschen Elisabeth. = My name is Elisabeth.
Wéi ass Ären Numm? = What is your name? (formal) 
Mäin Numm ass Elisabeth. = My name is Elisabeth.
Remember how one of my very first posts about learning Luxembourgish talked about the similarities between German and Luxembourgish? Introductions are a great example of this linguistic proximity. In German, you ask "Wie heißt du?" (or "Wie heißen Sie?" if you're being formal); in Luxembourgish, it's "Wéi heeschs du?" (or "Wéi heescht Dir?"). A German would answer with "Ich heiße..." while a Luxembourger would respond with "Ech heeschen..."

As you continue, the similarities only continue. While a German friend might inquire "Wie geht's?", a Luxembourger would be inclined to use the following expressions:
Wéi geet et? = How are you? (How is it going?)
Et geet mir gut. = I'm doing well. (It's going well.)
Et geet tipp topp! = Great! :)
Et geet guer net gutt. = Really bad. :(
Sometimes when learning a language in a classroom, you are taught words and phrases that are a little outdated or silly sounding ... and don't realize until later that you have been speaking like a very quirky old woman. So naturally, when hearing someone describe their state of wellness as "tipp topp", you might be tempted to think that this, too, was une expression démodée. Except that in this case, it's totally not. Luxembourgers say "tipp topp" ALL. THE. TIME. And I love them for it.

If it seems like I am already studying hard ... it's because I am! Although the course I am taking is technically free, we were asked to fork over a rather hefty 34 euros for the textbook called Schwätzt Dir Lëtzebuergesch? (This means "Do you speak Luxembourgish?" and the answer is a resounding NO.) On the plus side, this financial investment is quickly translating to a strong sense of academic devotion. In my budget-stretching, corner-cutting world, if you spend 34 euros on a book, then you are going to USE. THAT. BOOK.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the land of A1.1 Luxembourgish, including my answer to the all-important question: "Why learn Luxembourgish?" But for now, Äddi!


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