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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/timinnc

The Awful German Language by Mark Twain, 1880

This is a link to the humorous essay that the author Mark Twain wrote in 1880 about his time trying to learn German during his time in Germany. ;-)

https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html

April 9, 2016

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/12Hannah34

I love this essay, it is so accurate!

April 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rhyman88

Impressive streak.

April 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/12Hannah34

Thank you. :)

April 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rhyman88

You're welcome. I think I subscribed to you if you don't mind. That streak will help keep me motivated.

April 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deuteronom4

This is so accurate. (and quite unnerving to a beginner)

April 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/germanwannabee

I've read it before, but it cracks me up every time:)

April 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JR_Cthulhu_Dobbs

the brutal truth.

April 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MezzieLearns

I haven't laughed this much in a long time. Lingots to you!

April 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sean_Gerhardt

I loved the essay so much, I made a website for it http://theawfulgermanlanguage.com/ - feel free to leave it any comments or suggestions!

January 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gibsonsue

Perhaps Mark Twain should have rewritten this tract but basing his comments on the English language...I learnt at school that it is, "I before E except after C" there are more exceptions to this rule too...How does a foreigner distinguish between the many forms of 'bear' or 'bare'? Flammable and imflammable to all intents and purposes appear to be the same, although I am sure there is supposed to be some degree of difference! I could write a book on the many quirks of our language (that is English) - but then it is (as Chaucer predicted) almost fifty/fifty of French/German origins!!!!

April 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JR_Cthulhu_Dobbs

Also, there is no standard High English. Spellings, pronunciations, meanings, and usages vary drastically by location. Even a highly fluent native English speaker will encounter difficulties travelling in different English speaking regions.

April 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

Incorrect. Like Hochdeutsch, every English-speaking country does in fact have its own standard for the language.

In the UK, Standard English is predominant in non-fictional media. It's also the spoken standard for many.

We do have a lot of dialects, however. Understanding them is simply a matter of education and exposure. I wouldn't have any difficulty in making myself understood anywhere in the UK, Australia, most of the US and also most of Canada speaking nothing but Standard English.

The differences between most English dialects are considerably smaller than between, say, Hochdeutsch and Bairisch.

April 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JR_Cthulhu_Dobbs

There is only one Hochdeutsch, each German speaking country doesn't have a different one. Of course there are many dialects, and some can even be considered distinct languages. With the exception of some older people and some long isolated communities scattered about the world, almost all German speakers will know Hochdeutsch from school as well as the regional dialect.

I've lived in Canada, the US and the UK and have run into many small difficulties moving around. Obviously it doesn't prevent all communication.

April 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

It's true that there's only one Hochdeutsch, but there are three distinct varieties of Standard German- Swiss, Austrian and German.

Not quite as many as the various national standards of English, but the point still stands, I think- that point being that, like English, there's no single standard. German is also a pluricentric language.

April 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JR_Cthulhu_Dobbs

Oh! I got the impression that there was only one standard after hearing a Swiss friend's children complaining about having to learn Hochdeutsch at school. The three standard varieties apparently only differ very slightly:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_language#Varieties_of_Standard_German

Schweizerdeutsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch or Deutscheli or whatever it calls itself barely seems to be German at all, but my poor Hochdeutsch always seems to work well enough in those areas and the locals always seem to switch into Hochdeutsch without any hesitation.

April 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

"The three standard varieties apparently only differ very slightly"

Correct! It's mostly a matter of vocabulary and minor grammatical differences, just like the major forms of Standard English. I'm glad we could come to some agreement. :)

April 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JR_Cthulhu_Dobbs

Yes, some agreement, but the differences between, for example, US and UK English are quite severe. I grew up in Canada, have spent over a year in the US and now I've lived almost 2 decades in England. I recently worked for a Swedish company which insisted on using standard US English exclusively, and the spell checking almost drove me mad! Usage and grammar are also significantly different. Commonwealth varieties of English are much closer to the standard UK. Canada sits in between, but leaning heavily towards the UK version. Hochdeusch is still extremely close to the three official variants I was until recently unaware of. Thanks for the info.

Anyway, from where it all started, German is quite difficult, but English is very messy. It would be nice if there were a High English.

http://bygonebureau.com/2010/03/19/the-awful-elements-of-english/

April 12, 2016
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