Friday, January 27, 2012

It is a language composed in bedlam

Cate is sort of on the mend but is still at home and of course this is an added strain on my home duties as it requires constant attention  to her needs for water and lemon juice and coffee and such.

Last night she spent from 7:00 PM until 11:00 PM on a telephone call and I simply would not have thought this would have been possible – but clearly it is because she did it – barking like a seal every now and then - but muting the call when she did so as to not alarm the other participants.

I have just finished my second week with Frau Knickerbocker and I must say that up until a week or so ago I thought that separable verbs were the worst things the Germans had ever invented – but no – there are in fact more ghastly things.

Each – yes EACH German noun is Nominativ, Akkusative or Dativ and (depending on what they are) this will determine how you form the rest of the sentence you are about to construct.

Did I mention that you also have to know what the gender of the noun is? EVERY noun.

There are of course many other rules – too numerous to mention. Some so arcane and so baroque that they would make Machiavelli swoon.

It is astonishing to me that Germans can communicate at all.

I am eternally flabbergasted that Germans do not meet each other in the street and emit guttural grunts while flapping their arms uselessly in the air - attempting to convey the meaning of their words.

It is a language composed in bedlam by a committee of loons.


  1. The image of the Germans flapping their arms ties in nicely with your "committee of loons" - they, of course, being aquatic birds.

  2. Oh, yes Badger, not worry, the natives themselves fall afoul of their own language more than often. To brighten your mind (unless you know this jewel already), a link to Mark Twain's comments on the German language.

  3. "Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie und grün des Lebens goldner Baum."

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Auf dich gemünzt:
    Leben ist das Wahre, Sprache nur eine Zeitvergeudung.

    Brainy quote translation of Goethe quote:
    "All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green."

  4. I hope you don't get too discouraged about learning German. I think if you just keep on eXploring the language and using it in a progressively higher percentage of your time communicating then it will gradually become easier and more natural. Don't focus on your mistakes. In fifteen to twenty years you should be completely fluent.


    WordVeri: chablard - if you named your piggie Chab, this would be part of her/him.

  5. I can say hello and tell people I have a dog called Lumpy - but after that I'm lost. And I don't even have a dog

  6. Ich habe einen Hund. Wir sind beide klumpig.

  7. hahaha! nice post. ( I haveinternet here at work but not at home mate)

  8. My German is abysmal. I spoke it rather well as a child, but it's been long forgotten. I opened up a language book not too long ago and thought, "I used to know this shit?"

    Glad to hear Cate is feeling better.

  9. Go Badger - approach the whole thing with your usual unbridled zeal.


  10. Annie: I di not think of that when I wrote it - but of course you are right.

    David: Yes he says it better than anyone else's ever has. He is to be admired as much for his mastery of German as for his writing.

    Merisi: I have having trouble seeing the tree of life through the forest of possessive pronouns.

    esb: I am certainly not discouraged. I was hoping for sooner than 15 years but you are probably right.

    Glen: You never know - one day in Germany that may be useful.

    esb: Sie sprechen sehr gut Deutsch!

    Simon: Thanks cobber

    Smedette: Well I am sure you don't need it too often in Charlotte so there is no point in having remedial lessons.

    John: Thanks Cobber I shall indeed

  11. I confess to quite liking the sound of German - each to their own is my excuse.

    Mark Twain said something to the effect that the excitement of German is waiting for the verb...

    *puts feet up with cup of hot chocolate and waits*

    wv: entuper