It is amazing and hilarious to hear what Mark Twain believes about English, French, and German. In reference to the French language, he commented that the French “always tangle up everything to that degree that when you start into a sentence you never know whether you are going to come out alive or not.” He mentioned German as the most difficult language elsewhere: “A gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in 30 hours, French in 30 days, and German in 30 years!” Then he proposed to reform the German language, for “if it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it.”

Well, I don’t agree with him about French, for it is much easier and more rule-governed than English. He was an English native speaker. He has no idea how frustrating it is to internalize English syntax. But I am in accord with his comments on German. In his The Auwful German Language he clearly expresses how awful German language is! If you want to read it, you need to know some German grammar. I can give you the most general of it:

In English we simply say the computer, the chocolate, the cinema. In German each noun is either masculine, feminine, or neutral! So they say der Computer, die Schokolade, das Kino. “der” is masculine the, “die” feminine and “das” is neutral. These three are used if the noun is a subject, i.e. nominative. If the noun is an object things will be different. Look at the following example and notice the definite article for “computer”.

Nominative case: The computer is on the table. (Der Computer ist auf dem Tisch.)
Accusative case: I can buy the computer. (Ich kann den Computer kaufen.)
Dative case: I copy the info from the computer. (Ich kopiere die Infos aus dem Computer.)

And the feminine and neutral forms are yet different! Okay, I leave you with Mark Twain’s The Auwful German Language.

5 Comments

  1. tOUMAJ

    Warum machen die Leute Deutsch lernen…..In EshtebaHe AzizzaM bayad begii..
    Warum machen die Leute Deutsch zulernen oder Warum mochten die Leute Deutsch lernen

  2. My favorite story about German comes from Mark Twain.

    A German writer’s house caught on fire. The firemen came to the writer and said, “we have good news and bad news. The good news is we were able to save volume one of your novel, but the bad news is we were not able to save volume two.” The writer began to cry. The firemen said, “why are you crying? It wasn’t a total loss. You still have volume one.” The writer replied, “yes, but volume two had all the verbs.”

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