A most fascinating account, Sarn. Thanks especially for the detail and examples-- I have heard similar accounts but much more truncated ones.

I have a decades-longĀ acquaintance who taught English as a career in the local high schools. Her family came from East Germany in the mid-50s, when she was 14. She goes to Germany from time to time. I asked, and she told me that she cannot understand most of what is spoken in certain areas of the country, and has to ask them to speak Hoch Deutsch.

I had asked because my wife and I had gotten back from a great Danube-Rhine river cruise, from Budapest to Amsterdam. There was a young gal from Hanover who was working for the cruise line, and was on her first cruise. I asked her what she thought of the German down there and she told me she couldn't understand a word of it.

This is all of course second nature to Europeans, but to one raised on a big continent with one standard version of English, with only some colorful regional accents but no dialects, it still is amazing.