and welcome… uh… here. Today is not going to be a Word of the Day, neither will I discuss grammar issues other things. A few days ago a user posted a comment explaining a method for learning the German noun gender… you know.. linguists call it the “der, die, das – thing”… so…I started reading the comment and I thought
“… lalala gotta check my Facebook next, maybe there’ll be someth… wait … wait… this is great… this is such a good idea… oh man, best gender learning advice ever!”
The method the user suggested seems so cool and useful to me that I finally decided to share it with all of you and I’ll add some other tricks that I know of.
So… German Gender is one of the things that frustrates learners right from the get go. The average human being has one gender… maybe 2.But 3? That would be really confusing. But German doesn’t care. German boasts its 3 genders and shows no sign whatsoever of dropping one. But the biggest problem is actually that the grammatical gender of something has NOTHING to do with what it is and also it has NOTHING to do with the grammatical gender of the Roman languages. They call the sun masculine and the moon feminine. In German, the sun is feminine and the moon masculine. To me, the sun is a “she”. “She” shines. “She” goes nova. When I speak French, I use the masculine form and say “le soleil” but that is purely mechanical; in my head it is still a lady. It always will be. Having a guy up there all of a sudden would be quite a change of my view of the world… like… you’re cat walking up to you and saying
“Hey uhm… I don’t like tuna, FYI”
and you sit there completely baffled and ask yourself ‘Did my cat really just say FYI ?’.
Anyway.. the whole point of this is that whether it is der, die or das is random for the most part and if you didn’t absorb it during your childhood, you’ll just have to learn it… and by just I mean: painfully slowly despite investing an immense amount of time and energy and st… what’s that? Oh you want to get the tips already??… sure, no problem :) Continue reading
I hope you are doing great or as we would put it in German… bearable :). I am a little tired today but it’s okay because I don’t really have to do anything and it is a cloudy day anyway. So all I really did was doing groceries and go for a walk. After a long extended directors cut of “Winter – cold as ice” spring is finally here, and I have to say that Berlin is really a nice place to be right now. Why? Because the city is sooooooo green. There are trees and bushes and high grass and just “in between green” everywhere, gallonally… uh, I mean literally. And right now everything is blooming. Cherry-trees and lilac and chestnut which is Kastanie in German. Those are one of my favorites. Maybe that is because I spent a good part of my childhood in a street called Kastanienallee but they are just such beautiful impressive trees. They can become huuuuuuge and they have those really large cool leaves… anyway … so all I did today was buy things, eat things and go for a walk enjoying the green by the way… or is it along the way? Hey, speaking of by the way… do you know the German word:
Übrigens looks like a really weird and random combination of letters… and it means: by the way. Now, it is totally logical and easy to understand why by the way means what it means. It is like… you walk somewhere or doing something and then later when you get home you start preparing food and you try to fry this steak but you end up burning it so you end up eating out… wait… that doesn’t make much sense, does it? I really thought I had it figured out… anyway, what I can tell you for sure is that übrigens is not as random as it seems. So let’s take it apart shall we?
The very core of it is a word you probably know… Continue reading
and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of
der Grund (pron.: grunt/groond)
Gandalf, the White looked down between the
battlement into the black ocean of iron clad Orcs.
And there, for the first time since Saruman had betrayed him,
a shiver ran down his spine.
But not what he saw made his heart feel weary. It was what he heard.
For as the wooden carriage pulled ever forth by massive beasts slowly
moved toward the gates that had withstood for centuries,
hundreds, then thousands of Orcs voices joined into a guttural choir
rhythmically chanting one word:
Grund, Grund, Grund…
Gandalf turned away. He needed to warn Bella, ASAP.
This is of course a scene from the movie “Return of the Mac”, the third part of Peter Jackson’s stellar movie adaptation of one of the greatest romantic fantasy pro marriage novels ever written: “The rings of the Lord” by Stephanie Meyer… …
Okay… der Grund is of course not a huge iron clad wooden ram designed to break the gates of Gondor but it is a very massive sounding word anyway… like… imagine you have a heavy rock in your hand… and by heavy I mean heavier than metal and by rock I mean harder than… uh… Stones… …. … … … uhm … what?… oh … yeah, puns actually were on sale… in fact, they still are till Friday so if you wanne get so… anyway, so you have this massive boulder in your hands and then you drop it onto the grass and it makes this dull, deep thud-sound … “Grund“. You can feel your feet vibrate. That is how Grund sounds to me, massive, down to earth, stable…. and that makes the word super-fitting to what it originally means… Continue reading
and welcome to another episode of German Prefixes Explained. Today we’ll have a look one of the easier ones:
um (pron.: oom)
Um is pretty special because it is the o…aw…. awwwwwwwww look… all the other prefixes are making sad faces right now…my god, so cute… hey, don’t be sad okay , of course you guys are ALL special. Everyone loves you okay??… oh great, now they’re smiling again. Sweet. So…
The um-prefix is special in that it is pretty much the only one where we can’t say whether it separates. Ein- always separates. Ver- never does. Sure, there are prefixes like über that usually don’t separate but sometimes they do… but for um there isn’t even a tendency. It is almost Fifty fifty. And in fact, there are many many verbs of which there are 2 versions with um… one where it splits and one where it doesn’t.
- Ich umfahre den Zaun.
- Ich fahre den Zaun um.
Just to make sure… the meanings of the 2 sentences are of course not the same :).But before we get to that let’s have a quick look at the origins of um.
The origin of um
The word is actually quite closely related to the word by. Now you may say, “hmmmmmmmmmmmmm”. And that is a legitimate point.
They don’t even have a letter in common. But the truth is that both come from the same really old root… ambhi … just eaten from different ends. Continue reading
and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:
And although it doesn’t really have a direct one to one translation in English it won’t take long... … I… I “italified” (or is it “italicified”?) that because it is kind of like the meaning of dauern.
That’s right. Dauern is to take an amount of time. Its origins are Latin. The word durus meant hard, solid and related verb durare first meant to become hard, solid, lasting and then it took on the meaning of to last or to take an amount of time. Quite a useful verb so even after the Roman empire had stopped … well… lasting , all Roman based languages kept a version of it. Now, the German tribes already had a word for this… the ancestor of todays währen, but when they saw the Roman one they were like “Hmmmm…. pretty cool word… we should have that too.” So they imported it from French and in medieval German as well as in Old English and other Germanic languages there was a verb dūren. The Germans then made some adjustments to it… added an a and changed the order of letters a bit to dauern… because they figured that with aue it would be 10 % more fuel efficient, and even longer lasting. A huge success. Währen lost a large part of its market-share. It still exists as a verb but it’s kind of rare and its true legacy is certainly the IMPORTANT word während… which means while and during.
- Während meiner Präsentation sind die Leute eingeschlafen.
- During my presentation people fell asleep. Continue reading