Tag Archives: learning German

The awful German language

18 Feb

Have you ever tried to learn another language? I know many people who speak two or three fluently, and it’s something I’d like to do as well. Unfortunately, I’m trying to learn German as my second language. Have you ever tried to learn German? It takes learning a new language to a whole new level.

For Valentine’s Day, Sebastian gave me the book “A Tramp Abroad,” by Mark Twain. It’s the story of his travels through Germany and Italy, and it also includes a great essay he wrote called, “The Awful German Language.” It’s nice to know that even Mark Twain struggled with learning German. He writes, “A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is.”


I took three years of Spanish in high school. I’m very rusty, but I can still pick up many words and even string together a few sentences. It was an easier language to learn because it had rules and those rules could be followed. Whoever invented German must have hated rules. For every rule, there are at least ten exceptions.

Twain puts it best: “Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.” I know it doesn’t sound like it, but his words are actually encouraging, and I can find humor in what he writes.

This section made me laugh out loud:

“Personal pronouns and adjectives are a fruitful nuisance in this language, and should have been left out. For instance, the same sound, SIE, means YOU, and it means SHE, and it means HER, and it means IT, and it means THEY, and it means THEM. Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six — and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that.”

As did this:

“Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.”

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never quite get it, but I’m determined to prevail no matter how long it takes. So as Mark Twain did, and many others before me, I will continue trying to learn this utterly confusing language.

Resolutions revisited

25 Apr

The nice thing about setting goals is you can always go back and reevaluate.  Since we’re past the first quarter of 2012, it felt like a good time so see how I’m doing. Surprisingly, I’m right on track.

  1. See Sebastian at least every three months. We’re doing well with this. I visited him at the start of the year, and he surprised me with a visit during Valentine’s week. We’re planning a vacation for the end of May, and I cannot wait to see him again. The gap from his February visit to May will be a little over three months, but I’ll take that any day over five. I can’t believe last year we went from June to November without seeing each other. Never again.
  2. Learn German. I reset my Rosetta Stone lessons to start over from the beginning, and re-enrolled in studio sessions. I’m only a few weeks in and already surprised by how much I remember – and how much I forgot. Each week I try to do two lessons. Maybe I’ll be fluent yet!
  3. Read more. This has been a fun goal to meet. I received a Kindle for Christmas, and I’m absolutely in love with it. I thought I would miss turning pages, but the technology is amazing. The screen really looks like a real page, which I love for my eyes, my books download in seconds, and I’m definitely reading more. So far this year, I’ve read: Wicked by Gregory Maguire, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and the Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James. Looking forward to downloading more books for my upcoming beach vacation!
  4. Get back in shape. This is still a struggle, but I like a good challenge. I recently completed a 5K and I’m planning to run a 10K in May. It’s nice to work toward something, and slowly but surely I’m getting there.

I’m proud of my progress and glad that I set realistic goals. What were your resolutions? Are you on track to reach your goals?

image via


8 Jan

Isn’t the start of a new year funny? The first day of the year arrives, and it’s like we’ve been given a clean slate and a fresh start (even though nothing has really changed). And of course everyone sets those dreaded resolutions – the things we’re going to work on in the coming year. Most people don’t end up sticking to them, and maybe they are a little silly, but there is something refreshing about setting goals and working toward them.

2011 was a great year. I started a new job, celebrated my one year anniversary with Sebastian and even traveled abroad (twice). Looking back it was absolutely crazy, but I loved every minute of it. And now I’m looking forward to this year and everything it will bring. Even though I don’t usually make resolutions, I am a big fan of goals. So in the spirit of the new year, here are my goals for 2012:

1. See Sebastian at least every three months. This will be a little tough and probably expensive, but we’re both done with the months of waiting. It’s no fun, and we owe it to each other to do better.

2. Learn German. I’m not talking fluent here – I’m well aware it will take a while for that to happen. However, I’d love to be able to communicate with my boyfriend in his native language, even in beginner sentences.

3. Read more. When I was young, I used to read all the time. But if you’ve ever been through college, you know that reading for pleasure takes a back burner to your studies. I fit in a few books here and there, but lately I’ve been dying to really read again. I recently finished The Hunger Games series, and I can’t wait to start my next book.

4. Get back in shape. This has been a struggle of mine since I transferred from the University of Findlay to Kent State. I played on the women’s soccer team at Findlay, and when you go from working out two hours a day to nothing, it has a profound effect on your body. I know people often make this resolution, and it’s cliche, but it’s something I’d like to accomplish. Plus, Sebastian and I are thinking about taking a cruise this year, and I’m determined to have a bikini body, even it if kills me.

Goals and resolutions aren’t always perfect, and you don’t always reach them, but it’s nice to work toward something. Good luck in reaching your goals, I know I’ll need it for mine ;-)