Wow! I got the latest copy of the Wooster alumni magazine today, and to my surprise, my blog URL was listed in the Class of 2006 updates! Sadly, the information I recall submitting was not included (the fact that I've moved, my wedding photo, etc.); however, if you're joining because you found the site in the magazine, welcome! I hope you'll stop by periodically. If anyone has suggestions for topics they'd enjoy learning about- German customs in this region or daily cultural experiences, for example- please make a suggestion in the comments section!
Today I'll record one major linguistic difference that I notice on a daily basis. When I learned German in Austria (according to the Germans I learned "Austrian"), and when I continued my studies in the classrooms of Herr Figge and Professor Mullner, I was consistently told to decline by saying "nein". Of course, to have "no" as in "nothing" is a different word altogether, but if I didn't want to marry the man following me down the street I could tell him NEIN. If I hadn't completed my excessively long homework assignment, nein- ich hab' keine Antwort.
Things are different here.
It's a small difference, but goodness, it threw me off track for a while. I expected to arrive in my new home and at least be able to manage a negative reply. Nope. I mean, "ne". Like a horse neighing. Everyone here says "ne" constantly! At first I didn't understand- where did "nein" go? I checked the dictionaries and "ne" is not listed. It's a regional idiom, I'm assuming. I've found that I say it now, even when I'm talking to friends in English I'll change my usual "no" or "nah" into a subtle-but-firm NE. Try it out, you might like it.
Of course I'll continue my observations and let you all know if it's used more widely than the Rhineland-Pfalz. Perhaps some readers have personal experience with NE? I'm sure you're dying to know its roots. I know I am. ;o)