Return to site

Was geht, Bruder? - What's up, brother?

Week 8, Episode 15

Even after the quick Langventure that I took in German, something became pretty clear: German is very close to... Russian! You expected me to finish that sentence with Dutch, or more surprising English?

But I discovered that in German there are many words that sound just like their Russian counterparts. And I am not talking about those that were adopted fron German to Russian, like "Schlagbaum" (lifting gate​)—sh-luck-bah-oom—or "Butterbrot" (bread with butter)—boo-teh-r-broh-t.

I found words like "Gast" (gah-st) = "Гость" (goh-st') — guest, and "Ziel" (tseel') = "Цель" (tseh-l') — objective, "Ananas" (ah-nah-nah-s) = "Ананас" (ah-nah-nah-s) — pineapple, "Trauer" (trah-wa) = "Траур" (trah-oor) — mourning, "Kino" (kee-noh) = "Кино" (kee-noh) — movie.

Well, English does have a lot of similarities with German. How can it be otherwise, if they are so close to each other and both come from Latin? Though they definitely sound different, as this guy here will prove you less than in 4 minutes:

And some expressions that I grew up to believe are uniquely Russian appear in German too! For example, "Aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen" literally means "to make an elephant out of a fly" and in the same form (but written in cyrillics, of course) exists in Russian. It equals English phrase "to make a mountain out of a mole hill" and means that a person exagerates something making drama out of nothing.

No, German is not Russian, that is not what I'm saying. But isn't it surprising to find such intimity between two languages you would never suspect in it? Right up to the fact that Russian, too, has just 5 tenses (better said, verb forms) and in this sense might compete in efficiency with German :)

Though there are 33 letters in Russian alphabet (opposed to 26 of German), the amount of sounds in both languages is equal, but in Russian there are no umlauts or strange sounds for adopted words and no diphthongs. It takes 8 (!) letters in German to write down a sound we identify by only one letter —"Щ" (this sound is represented as [ɕ] in Swedish). Instead of one symbol for it, in German, as in English, you would use the combination of "sh" and "ch", so "Schtsch" for German and "Shch" for English. But actually the sound, in my opinion, has nothing to do with "ch". Just say "shhhh", now freez and with a tip of your tongue touch the lowest part of your lower jaw's teeth and try "shhhh" again, but instead it will sound "Щ".

That was a surprising discovery for me, as I would never think there is anything common between German and Russian languages! Let's move on to the last part of our Langventure in German where we will go deep! :) Deep into the words!

Achtung, fertig, los!Ready, steady, go!

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