Return to site

Klipp und klar — Terse and clear

Week 7, Episode 14

How does the language reveal the German soul? As far as the alphabet concerns, it is identical to English! Surprised? But it's true, just the same way it was true for French. And as in French, in German there are additional versions of letters: 3 umlauts—letters with two dots above them (ä, ö, ü), sounds of which resemble Turkish ones, and the deceitful letter Eszett (ß) that looks like "b" but actually is the old way to write "ss" (so you read it as "s").

The Germans didn't waste their time to create abundance of diphthongs, they are OK with just three: [ai] for combinations ai, ei, ay, ey; [aʊ̯] for au and [ɔʏ̯] for äu, eu. But in total, with all that umlauts and stuff, the amount of sounds in the language is even less than in English — 42.

So, you just need to master the "r" sound the way the Germans pronounce it and you good to go! Good news is that if this kind of gargly sound made at the back of your throat isn't happening for you, then you can roll it the way the Spanish do, and it's still be the German way. Just don't forget that in the suffix -er, prefixes er-, ver-, zer-, her-, vor- and after long root vowels "r" is pronounced as "ah".

Really great news for those who learn German and have problems with English "th" sound is that it doesn't exist in German and is basically replaced with "d" or "t": Ding = Thing, Feder = Feather, Wetter = Weather, Tausend = Thousand. May be that's why German is so popular in the world? ;)

It is just genders of nouns that screw things up—they do not agree with those in English, Russian or Spanish, plus there is no clear way to identify which is which. And this confusion may only be sorted out by practice and growing habit. There are 3 genders in German—feminine, masculine and neutral—and it is important to know which one a noun has as it affects your choice of an article for it, the way plurals are made and cases are formed.

But German might be just one of the most efficient tenses-wise languages. It has only 1 tense for the Present, 3 for the Past and 2 for the Future, one of which is not used that often anymore. With just 5 concepts of forming the tense needed you can speak German in no time, of course if verb endings is no sweat for you.

Does the structure of the language conveys the common stereotype about the Germans' efficiency? I still believe English is easier: when a verb has no change of endings it kinda hooks you. Though in some ways, like with tenses, German wins. Let's see more of it in the next episode.

Tschüß! (Bye!)

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly