‘The Awful German Language’ by Mark Twain is a must-read for anyone who knows anything about this language! It is hilarious! And I am just at that learning-German-phase where I can absolutely empathize with whats written there. Its a bit of a long read, so for the not-so-interested, try these excerpts:
1) Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution. : a tree is male, its buds are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female — tomcats included, of course; a person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it Now, by the above dissection, the reader will see that in Germany a man may think he is a man, but when he comes to look into the matter closely, he is bound to have his doubts; he finds that in sober truth he is a most ridiculous mixture; and if he ends by trying to comfort himself with the thought that he can at least depend on a third of this mess as being manly and masculine, the humiliating second thought will quickly remind him that in this respect he is no better off than any woman or cow in the land.
2 ) An excerpt from The Old Mamselle’s Secret, by Mrs. Marlitt. “But when he, upon the street, the in-satin-and-silk-covered-now-very-unconstrained-after-the-newest-fashioned-dressed) government counselor’s wife met,” etc., etc. ‘ ( Wenn er aber auf der Strasse der in Sammt und Seide gehÃ¼llten jetzt sehr ungenirt nach der neusten Mode gekleideten RegierungsrÃ¤thin begegnet.)
A writer’s ideas must be a good deal confused, a good deal out of line and sequence, when he starts out to say that a man met a counselor’s wife in the street, and then right in the midst of this so simple undertaking halts these approaching people and makes them stand still until he jots down an inventory of the woman’s dress. That is manifestly absurd. It reminds a person of those dentists who secure your instant and breathless interest in a tooth by taking a grip on it with the forceps, and then stand there and drawl through a tedious anecdote before they give the dreaded jerk. Parentheses in literature and dentistry are in bad taste.
3) Talking abt splitting words, check out the DE and PARTED and DEPARTED below:
“The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED.”
Ah, well..given that one of my new year resolutions was to be good in German ( good enough to get by in Germany), Herr.Twain aint particularly encouraging..Oh well, we’ll see …que sera sera..what will be will be..