It´s in your blood

We all know that German is an incredibly difficult language to learn. One of my colleagues is Spanish and in order to be a fully certified teacher in Germany, he has to get a C2-language certificate. He told us to correct him if he made any mistakes, and as a language teacher I somehow ended up being the one to have to explain his mistakes to him.

A couple of things might shock you when you start to learn German. We have three genders, four cases, a very precise word order and we are very fussy about the correct use of tenses. The word around the internet is that we (amongst others) are Grammar Nazis – and even though I consider the term Nazi incredibly offensive, I guess it is true. We like our language, we like the logic of it. I have often heard that German sounds harsh and brutal, but to be honest, it has its very own melody and can be quite beautiful. There are a lot of German words that express a feeling or a situation so well it´s nearly impossible to find an equivalent expression in other languages. Plus, you can put nouns together to build a compound that can have a totally different meaning than if you have the two nouns alone. Playing Hangman with a German will be your doom (if you don´t believe me, here is the longest German word known to Duden, which is like the Webster´s dictionary for Germans: Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung. Bet you gave up reading this word after the second try).

Anyway, my colleague really got into German compounds and he found the words “Meerschweinchen” (guinea pig) and “Rampensau”(limelight hog) and he thought that the Meerschweinchen was indeed a Schweinchen (a pig) that lives in the Meer (the sea). And he thought a Rampensau was the Sau (female pig) that can be found near Rampen (loading docks). Plus, he couldn´t make sense of the German word “Sauwetter”, which describes a weather that is plain nasty, usually when it rains a lot, like the kind of rain that soaks you instantly even though it isn´t raining that hard at all. The conversation we had about the actual meaning of these words was hilarious. In the end, he had learned the true meaning of these words and before he left for his next class, he told me that explaining stuff to others is just in my blood and that I am a teacher through and through.

I guess he is right.Still…

I guess I´m turning into an overly critical person that takes her job home and can´t stop being the one with the red pen to mark everyone´s mistakes, one of those that always wants to be right about everything and becomes quite conceited about explaining stuff to you.

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I corrected my sister´s expression, told a cashier not to say “Jup” instead of “Ja” (yes) and explained to my students that I would not accept comments that included the expression “Sinn machen” (to make sense), because that expression is semantically incorrect in German. While the English “to make sense” absolutely makes sense, the German “Sinn” (sense) cannot make anything. It can “Sinn ergeben” (to make sense) or “Sinn haben” (to make sense), but it cannot “Sinn machen” (to make sense). Confusing, but if you speak German, this totally makes sense to you.

I´m a teacher through and through and now that my colleague and life and the internet (see picture above, taken from 9gag) has pointed out the ugly truth to me, the next thing I´ll have to learn is that I am usually right in school, because, shit, dude, I studied that stuff, but that I really need to learn to shut up outside of school and leave mistakes uncorrected every once in a while whether they machen Sinn (urghh) or not.

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6 thoughts on “It´s in your blood

  1. I’m fluent in Spanish, but my German is nowhere near as good. I found a few things odd when learning it. Das maschen, the giving the time half an hour in the future and the order of the sentences. Zu gehen etc. The cartoon made me chuckle. Have one in return.

    1. I once met a French couple in Rome who refused to speak any English with me, even though they had asked me how to get to the Vatican museum. I tried to tell them in French, but they just laughed at the way I pronounced words and walked away. If your German is half as good as my French, people in Germany will encourage you to speak German, because we love how it sounds when someone who´s not German speaks German. It isn´t an easy language to learn and we appreciate the effort.

    1. I’m not sure how I feel about people correcting my mistakes, to be honest. I guess that’s because I’m usually the one who sees all the mistakes and not the one who gets to make them. In life, however, I make all the mistakes I can. After all, it means I will learn.

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