Naturally, when I saw this, I had to try it. The results:
me: merry christmas
en2de: Frohe Weihnachten
me: are you going to the christmas market?
en2de: Werden Sie den Weihnachtsmarkt?
me: did you bring the camel?
en2de: Haben Sie bringen das Kamel?
Which reminded me of something else I’ll yank out of the rerun file (originally entitled “Use Your Words” and published on September 22, 2004):
Why is it that the words we remember best in foreign languages are invariably the most useless? Occasionally, I have dreams of polishing the rust off of my French, of expanding my understanding of German beyond it’s current 30-word limit. Sometimes, I even think it would be nice to finally learn Norwegian. Then I contemplate the actual meaning and quantity of the foreign-language words I currently possess. In French, it is conceivable that I could still embarrass myself creditably. After all, I studied the language for about six years (though those six years were many, many eons ago now). I used to brush up my French by reading advanced children’s books like the Le Petit Nicolas series. Then I found the first two Harry Potter books in French translation and thought it would be a good idea to use those to help me refresh my French.
Turns out that wasn’t such a hot idea. It took me ages to get through the first two chapters of the first book, and as a result I now have the perfectly useless word “perceuse” stuck fast in my brain. It means drill. Harry’s nasty uncle is a drill salesman – reading the book in English, I was never aware of the repetition of the word. But in French, oh – I frustrated myself with how often I looked it up. The first time or two I read it and looked it up, my helpfully discriminating brain said, “You won’t need that,” and promptly forgot it. That was a mistake. Having had to look it up a few more times, now I will never forget it. So – if you go to Paris with me, be sure to take me to a hardware store.
I visited Germany in Christmas in 1996. So, if you say, “Fro Weihnachten” to me while offering me gluhwein, we’re good. I can say “please” and “thank you.” I can even say “excuse me.” I can count to ten. I’m like Sesame Street auf Deutsch! While in a train station, I can tell the Eingang (entrance) from the Ausfahrt (exit). (Upon arrival at one of many train stations during that trip, one of my companions said, “I forget – do we gang or fahrt?”) So obviously, I’m a terror in German. Hold me back.
My Norwegian is the most laughable. Thanks to my late Norwegian grandmother, I can tell you I love you. Of far less utility, I can say “bread” and “butter.” I have no verbs with which to ask for the bread and butter, nor can I tell you where to shove the bread and butter. But then again, I can say “thank you very much” after being offered bread and butter. It’s not that useless after all – I can write a little Viking monologue: “Brot! Smur!! Tusen takk.” Applause…
Thank you, thank you – you’re beautiful – I’m here all week. Try the bread and butter.