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"The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain

 
Anonymous Coward
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10/08/2012 09:20 AM
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"The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
"I went often to look at the collection of curiosities in Heidelberg Castle, and one day I surprised the keeper of it with my German. I spoke entirely in that language. He was greatly interested; and after I had talked a while he said my German was very rare, possibly a "unique"; and wanted to add it to his museum.

If he had known what it had cost me to acquire my art, he would also have known that it would break any collector to buy it. Harris and I had been hard at work on our German during several weeks at that time, and although we had made good progress, it had been accomplished under great difficulty and annoyance, for three of our teachers had died in the mean time. A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is.

Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp. One is washed about in it, hither and thither, in the most helpless way; and when at last he thinks he has captured a rule which offers firm ground to take a rest on amid the general rage and turmoil of the ten parts of speech, he turns over the page and reads, "Let the pupil make careful note of the following exceptions." He runs his eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the rule than instances of it. So overboard he goes again, to hunt for another Ararat and find another quicksand. Such has been, and continues to be, my experience. Every time I think I have got one of these four confusing "cases" where I am master of it, a seemingly insignificant preposition intrudes itself into my sentence, clothed with an awful and unsuspected power, and crumbles the ground from under me. For instance, my book inquires after a certain bird -- (it is always inquiring after things which are of no sort of consequence to anybody): "Where is the bird?" Now the answer to this question -- according to the book -- is that the bird is waiting in the blacksmith shop on account of the rain. Of course no bird would do that, but then you must stick to the book. Very well, I begin to cipher out the German for that answer. I begin at the wrong end, necessarily, for that is the German idea. I say to myself, "Regen (rain) is masculine -- or maybe it is feminine -- or possibly neuter -- it is too much trouble to look now. Therefore, it is either der (the) Regen, or die (the) Regen, or das (the) Regen, according to which gender it may turn out to be when I look. In the interest of science, I will cipher it out on the hypothesis that it is masculine. Very well -- then the rain is der Regen, if it is simply in the quiescent state of being mentioned, without enlargement or discussion -- Nominative case; but if this rain is lying around, in a kind of a general way on the ground, it is then definitely located, it is doing something -- that is, resting (which is one of the German grammar's ideas of doing something), and this throws the rain into the Dative case, and makes it dem Regen. However, this rain is not resting, but is doing something actively, -- it is falling -- to interfere with the bird, likely -- and this indicates movement, which has the effect of sliding it into the Accusative case and changing dem Regen into den Regen." Having completed the grammatical horoscope of this matter, I answer up confidently and state in German that the bird is staying in the blacksmith shop "wegen (on account of) den Regen." Then the teacher lets me softly down with the remark that whenever the word "wegen" drops into a sentence, it always throws that subject into the Genitive case, regardless of consequences -- and that therefore this bird stayed in the blacksmith shop "wegen des Regens.""


[link to www.crossmyt.com]
Anonymous Coward
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Netherlands
10/08/2012 09:39 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Ah.. Deutsch, die Sprache der Liebe.
Anonymous Coward
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Sweden
10/08/2012 10:05 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
I took both English and German in school, so I can attest to the fact German is harder to grasp. My English may not be flawless, but at least it compares favorably to what most native speakers can manage...

So, what about my German then? Well, this is the sum total of my knowledge in this backwards language:


1. Durch, fur, gegen, ohne, um. (That's a list of words that make some other word take some special grammatical form. The details are as lost to me now as they were when I memorized the list.)

2. Es ist ein kuhlshrank. "It is a refrigerator". This everyday phrase could prove useful some time, you never know!

3. Ein hubschrauber fliegt davon. "A helicopter flies over there." One day I will probably see a black helicopter over my house if I keep writing shit on the internet, and then this phrase may come in handy!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 23968180
United States
10/08/2012 10:13 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
I took both English and German in school, so I can attest to the fact German is harder to grasp. My English may not be flawless, but at least it compares favorably to what most native speakers can manage...

So, what about my German then? Well, this is the sum total of my knowledge in this backwards language:


1. Durch, fur, gegen, ohne, um. (That's a list of words that make some other word take some special grammatical form. The details are as lost to me now as they were when I memorized the list.)

2. Es ist ein kuhlshrank. "It is a refrigerator". This everyday phrase could prove useful some time, you never know!

3. Ein hubschrauber fliegt davon. "A helicopter flies over there." One day I will probably see a black helicopter over my house if I keep writing shit on the internet, and then this phrase may come in handy!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 300884


You forgot 'bis' in list #1. I studied German in HS and college and I remember my HS German teacher had us memorize the dative and accusative prepositions by setting them to music - your list #1 is accusative(I forgot the name of the tune) and 'aus, ausser, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu'(sung to 'The Blue Danube') are dative. I will probably remember these lists until the day I die even if I forget everything else in German.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 300884
Sweden
10/08/2012 10:34 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
I took both English and German in school, so I can attest to the fact German is harder to grasp. My English may not be flawless, but at least it compares favorably to what most native speakers can manage...

So, what about my German then? Well, this is the sum total of my knowledge in this backwards language:


1. Durch, fur, gegen, ohne, um. (That's a list of words that make some other word take some special grammatical form. The details are as lost to me now as they were when I memorized the list.)

2. Es ist ein kuhlshrank. "It is a refrigerator". This everyday phrase could prove useful some time, you never know!

3. Ein hubschrauber fliegt davon. "A helicopter flies over there." One day I will probably see a black helicopter over my house if I keep writing shit on the internet, and then this phrase may come in handy!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 300884


You forgot 'bis' in list #1. I studied German in HS and college and I remember my HS German teacher had us memorize the dative and accusative prepositions by setting them to music - your list #1 is accusative(I forgot the name of the tune) and 'aus, ausser, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu'(sung to 'The Blue Danube') are dative. I will probably remember these lists until the day I die even if I forget everything else in German.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 23968180


My list didn't have a 'bis' on it, I swear it! The Germans must have made things even more complicated on purpose since I learned this shit!

But then, you remind me of list number 2, and that one was "aus, ausser, bei, gegenuber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu"!

Perhaps the German grammar changes with geographic location as well, different in the US and Sweden? Wouldn't surprise me with this illogical language...

Anyway, you're absolutely right, German grammar isn't easily forgotten once your brain has been infected with it! I'll probably be mumbling "Durch, fur, gegen, ohne, um" on my death bed!
Anonymous Coward
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Netherlands
10/08/2012 10:38 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Fick me up ..
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 25183121
Netherlands
10/08/2012 10:38 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Fick mig up ..
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 25123144
Germany
10/08/2012 10:49 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Fick mig up ..
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25183121


may i...



the correct (not literal) translation for "it fucked me up" into german is "es hat mich durcheinander gebracht".


tomato
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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10/08/2012 10:50 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Germany
10/08/2012 10:56 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
i'm sorry i don't want to fuck up (durcheinanderbringen) this otherwise interesting thread.

tomatobanana2
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 300884
Sweden
10/08/2012 11:04 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Fick mig up ..
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25183121


may i...



the correct (not literal) translation for "it fucked me up" into german is "es hat mich durcheinander gebracht".


tomato
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


Just as I remember it, everything you try to say ends up getting twice as long in German!
Anonymous Coward
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Belgium
10/08/2012 11:05 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
bait me up op
Anonymous Coward
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India
10/08/2012 11:05 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


hitler destroyed german otherwise most of scientific literature was written in german now it is in english
Anonymous Coward
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Belgium
10/08/2012 11:06 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you're better do your damn thang
Water Flower

User ID: 14071917
United States
10/08/2012 11:29 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


lmfao
laugh

i had hoped to make some sense of the language, but just can't. i think i'll stick to spanish. trying to learn it hurts my brain.

Last Edited by Water Flower on 10/08/2012 11:30 AM
Anonymous Coward
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10/08/2012 11:39 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


LOL. I learned German early on thankfully... :) I am also lucky that my G/F is 50% German (dad) and 50% Spanish (From Spain - her mom)..... She speaks fluent Spanish but no German... go figure.. LOL She helped me finish off my Spanish.

One word for you OP: Feuerzangenbowle

banana2
Anonymous Coward
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10/08/2012 11:41 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


lmfao
laugh

i had hoped to make some sense of the language, but just can't. i think i'll stick to spanish. trying to learn it hurts my brain.
 Quoting: Water Flower


The ME 109 had twice as many moving parts as the Spitfire, enough said.
Anonymous Coward
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Netherlands
10/08/2012 11:50 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
[link to youtu.be]

Dont know how to embedd vid, German Coastguard talking English ;-)
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 23022509
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10/08/2012 11:51 AM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


lmfao
laugh

i had hoped to make some sense of the language, but just can't. i think i'll stick to spanish. trying to learn it hurts my brain.
 Quoting: Water Flower


I learned German over 5 years in school... but that is another story... onto Spanish...

It took me two years to go from zero Spanish to fluent.

I did the following:

Michele Thomas CD Set (Basic and Advanced)

About 5 different spanish software packages including Rosetta

Went to Costa Rica, studied 5 days a week at a school for two months while staying with a family there. They were really nice people and living in a 100% Spanish speaking environment helped

Watched 1-2 hours of Spanish soaps/talk shows on Univision each day. This helps a LOT.

My GF is 100% fluent (Spanish mom from Spain and grew up until are 16 in Venezuela) and can speak with a latin american tilt or that of Spain. This has helped a LOT.

It is a lot of work but totally worth it.

I live the look I get from Mexicans when I just start wrapping with them in Spanish and throw in the Mexican slag and accent... I am as white as they come (German/Swede is my bloodline) and when I start speaking their jaws drop and the look on their face is like:

"Holy shit, what the hell... this Gringo is speaking Spanish and well at that... how can this be!?!?!?!"

LOL... I always get a kick out of that

Keep at it... takes a while but if you learn it right and develop the sound correct (don't sound like a gringo with awful pronunciation) it will be totally worth the journey.
Anonymous Coward
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Netherlands
10/08/2012 12:29 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
German his given us some beautiful words:

Weltschmerz
Weltanschauung
Daseinsberechtigung
Feindberuhrung
Fingerspitzengefühl
Das Ding an Sich
Klangfarbe
Materialschlacht
Kampfbereit
Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgese​tz
Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän
Schadefreude
Frühlingserwachen
Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat
Frontkameradschaft
Backpfeifengesicht
Sauerkraut
Ampelmännchen
Fahrvergnügen
Aha-Erlebnis
Vergangenheitsbewältigung
Vernichtungsgedanke
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Germany
10/08/2012 01:50 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Vergangenheitsbewätigungsversuchsanordnungsgemeinschaftsüberw​achungspsychologie
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Germany
10/08/2012 01:51 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
[link to youtu.be]

Dont know how to embedd vid, German Coastguard talking English ;-)
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 4090379




there you are. hf
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Germany
10/08/2012 01:52 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you're better do your damn thang
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25130834


i may translate ?


if i understood you right you said:

get your shit together

or in german

"Reiß dich zusammen!"
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 25123144
Germany
10/08/2012 01:56 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


LOL. I learned German early on thankfully... :) I am also lucky that my G/F is 50% German (dad) and 50% Spanish (From Spain - her mom)..... She speaks fluent Spanish but no German... go figure.. LOL She helped me finish off my Spanish.

One word for you OP: Feuerzangenbowle

banana2
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 23022509


Feuerzangenbowle is a nice german film from the 1940s starring Heinz Rühmann.


[link to www.imdb.com]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Germany
10/08/2012 01:56 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
Vergangenheitsbewätigungsversuchsanordnungsgemeinschaftsübe​rwachungspsychologie
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


thats actually not a word i made that up.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 25123144
Germany
10/08/2012 01:57 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you can't learn german with your tiny human brain

you need God's holy spirit and intuition


:
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


lmfao
laugh

i had hoped to make some sense of the language, but just can't. i think i'll stick to spanish. trying to learn it hurts my brain.
 Quoting: Water Flower


The ME 109 had twice as many moving parts as the Spitfire, enough said.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25039940


1dunno1 don't know much about engineering unfortunately.
Anonymous Coward
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United Kingdom
10/08/2012 02:08 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
ugly looking and sounding language

its a brilliant irony that it will eventually die out faster than many languages, considering germany wished (and still wishes) to impose itself on the rest of europe, and yet it is only spoken in germany and only somewhat in austria

plus, its difficult to master when it isnt your own tongue. kind of linguistic darwinism

germany keeps trying to have its own empire. hitler envied the british and wished for a german empire to rival the british


why they continue to teach it in english schools is beyond me. chinese would be far more useful
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 300884
Sweden
10/08/2012 04:59 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
ugly looking and sounding language

its a brilliant irony that it will eventually die out faster than many languages, considering germany wished (and still wishes) to impose itself on the rest of europe, and yet it is only spoken in germany and only somewhat in austria

plus, its difficult to master when it isnt your own tongue. kind of linguistic darwinism

germany keeps trying to have its own empire. hitler envied the british and wished for a german empire to rival the british


why they continue to teach it in english schools is beyond me. chinese would be far more useful
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 22820077


Germany is the technological and economical center of Western civilization. China is the center of getting simple crap manufactured on the cheap.

Take your pick.
Anonymous Coward
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Germany
10/08/2012 05:27 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain

[link to www.youtube.com]
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1953737
United States
10/08/2012 05:36 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
you're better do your damn thang
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25130834


i may translate ?


if i understood you right you said:

get your shit together

or in german

"Reiß dich zusammen!"
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 25123144


That definitely was not in the Berlitz New Basic German cd's. Have to break that out next time a friend of mine gets too drunk, then tell him it means he needs another beer.
Anonymous Coward
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Austria
10/08/2012 05:43 PM
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Re: "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain
German is a language .. this guy turns it into an art form: