What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

"A year of of my life. My life in a year."

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The “Awful German Language” or "Deutsche Sprache – schwere Sprache"

“Deutsche Sprache schwere sprache” (German language – hard language) is probably the most common saying exchange students in Germany hear. People always talk about Chinese and Finish being difficult, and don’t get me wrong, they both are, but I don’t think German gets enough credit.

With four cases (nominative,dative, genitive, and accusative), four extra letters (ä, ö, ü, ß), 16 ways to say “the,” and words so long they take up more than one line, German can be really difficult. And that’s just the beginning. German also has 12 different categories for plurals, plus exceptions (as compared to English’s "add s”) and every noun has a gender. People say, “English and German are from the same language family, so that means it must not be difficult to learn German when English is your first language.” Wrong. Not only do the English and German letters have different sounds (for example, “e” and “i" are switched making it difficult to spell without being confused), but as my Sweedish friend once said, “Speaking German with Sweedish as your first language is hard enough, but when English is your first language it’s downright impossible.”

Because German and English both have Germanic roots, the two languages have a lot of similar words… that being said, the words don’t have a lot of similar meanings.


German Word

Sounds/Looks like (in English)…

Meaning (in English)

Pony

Sounds/looks like “pony”

Bangs

Will

Sounds/looks like “will”

To want

Geschmack

Sounds like schmuck

Flavor

Menschen

Sounds like “mention”

People

War

Looks like “war”

I/He/She was

Hell

Sounds/looks like “hell”

Light

Damit

Looks like “damit”

With it/With that

Ei

Sounds like “eye”

Egg

Eis

Sounds like “ice”

Ice cream

Foul

Sounds/looks like “foul”

Lazy

Tag

Looks like “tag”

Day

Einfacht

Sounds like “in fact”

Simply

Were

Sounds like “where”

Who

Hausarrest

Sounds like “House arrest”

Grounded


Collegeblock

Sounds/looks like “college block”

Writing Pad

Chef

Sounds/looks like “Chef”

Boss

Portemonnaie


Dick

Sounds like “pot money”

Sounds/looks like "dick"

Wallet


Fat

German also has ‘unique’ names. For example John is “Johannes.” Last week I was talking to a friend and we were trying to remember the last pope’s name, after a moment at the same time I excitedly said, “John Paul” while he said (what sounded like) “Johannes Paule!”

All that being said, German words are almost always spelled just like they sound (assuming you know the German alphabet) and no student of German has ever had to learn “i before e except afer c and in words that rhyme with…’

But I’m not really allowed to talk, English has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds, more than any other language.

4 comments:

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  3. "Geschmack - sounds like “schmuck” - means flavor"
    You missed that "Schmuck" means jewelry in German

    ReplyDelete
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