Reading in a second language you’re not very good at yet is an intense experience. I wonder if this is what it was like to learn to read in English when I was young. I know I can’t learn to speak or understand in the same way as I learned my first language – that ship has long since sailed – but maybe reading works that way. In German especially. I started learning French at school and Japanese at university, so speaking, listening, reading and writing were each given emphasis and time devoted to them. But I’ve spent five years learning German through osmosis, and now that I’m trying to read, I’m finding that there are words I know if I sound them out, but I’ve never seen them written down before. I’m learning how all the little different pieces fit together, where when listening I tend to pick out the key words and discard everything else.
Reading in German is work. But it’s rewarding work. When I read in English, the words flow, the images are smooth. The words are doing all the work. When I read in German, it’s almost like I’m shouldering some of that work myself, actively making things happen, forcing the story on through sheer willpower. I’ve caught myself being so proud after a chapter that you’d think I wrote the book myself.
Anyway, favourite word from chapter 7!
der Bienenkorb: beehive. It means bee-basket! A basket of bees! It’s simultaneously cute and horrifying!