German vocab is so hard
It's not even funny. I'm struggling to even remember how to say basic greetings because there's literally nothing about the phrases that's creating a connection in my brain to remember how to say them. It just seems like random letters put together. The articles are easy (even easier than Italian) so I'm good to go with those for now. But the vocab looks like if someone set a random letter generator to generate 20 random letters and make a word out of it. I don't even know where to start when it comes to remembering these. Now it's true that I haven't focused on German outide of Duolingo, but I'm level 7 now, I should have gotten the basic greetings and stuff. But I just can't remember them and I've done the "Phrases" section so many times.
Any advice when it comes to starting out with German? There doesn't seem to be a pattern with this language as of right now. I'm just lost, learning random jumbles of letters put together, nothing makes sense. Italian was my first foreign language and it wasn't long until I was able to start getting the patterns down and get a foundation. For some reason, even though I really like the way German sounds (it's a beautiful language), I just can't get a grip on it. Sentence structure seems similar to English (because English is germanic) but the vocab...my God. Most of the words are insanely long and because I can't figure out how the language flows, I can't decipher why it's spelled that way or what it even means by looking at it. Right now it honestly feels like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall until we both crack.
"there's literally nothing about the phrases that's creating a connection in my brain" Have you tried using mnemonics?
"Any advice when it comes to starting out with German? " I'd try to get as much German content as possible. Listen to German music, watch German movies with subtitles (I'd highly recommend "Guess who's back" ) etc. It is quite different to English but the more you interact with the language the easier it'll get. However, it'll probably take quite a while.
"There doesn't seem to be a pattern with this language as of right now." Yes there definitely is a pattern. But there are exceptions as well, just like in English. I'd recommend you to buy a German grammar book. There are many free online resources available if you don't want to spend money.
"Most of the words are insanely long" Yes, German words tend to be longer than English words. Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. This is one word. (Don't be scared, you'll never use it!) Many words you would write as two or three words in English are written as one in German. But, there are rules for how this works. Once again, practice is the answer. Duolingo alone will probably not be enough if you are serious about learning German.
B.t.w., many German words are great. One of my favorites is "eine Eselsbrücke". One to one translated, this means "a donkeys bridge". However, it means "a mnemonic". The word is created by merging "ein Esel" (a donkey) and "eine Brücke" (a bridge) with an "Fugen S" (the "s"between the two words). This "Fugen S" is what connects many of these merged words. Awesome, isn't it?
I agree with everything you say, but I'd like to point out that not only do we "never use" Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz or similar words, but they are legalese terms. And legalese is a very complicated language in any language ...
On the level of words, there are some that look similar:
die Sonne -- the sun
der Mond -- the moon
die Sterne -- the stars
der Apfel -- the apple
der Schuh -- the shoe
die Orange -- the orange
das Schiff -- the ship
die Brücke -- the bridge (already mentioned in JoelReiman1's "Eselsbrücke")
finden -- to find
machen -- to make
sagen -- to say
lernen -- to learn
das Gras -- grass
When I was in my first years of learning English, I always tried to find the words with a close relationship to their German counterparts, and I marveled in considering the ancient connection that these words represented. This made English less intimidating to me.
Cognates are really handy aren't they? That's basically what gives Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French its degree of mutual intelligibility.
Start with the easy words. I'm sure there are lists out there, but top of my mind:
Tiger, Wolf, Elefant, Giraffe, Hamster, Maus
Haus, Lampe, Telefon, Computer, Rose, warm
Hand, Arm, Finger, Lunge, Knie
singen, sinken, bringen, landen
You might even try these:
konzentrieren, Universität, Demokratie, Revolution, Republik, aggressiv
This way, you'll have a long list of words you "own". That should boost your confidence and motivation. Practice the pronunciation, notice the patterns, make little sentences. And, eventually, go on to words without similarity to English.
It seems that you just do not have yet the feeling for the language, that will come with more practice. Level 7 is not a lot since the levels get harder and harder to obtain.
German has the advantage that 99% of the words are spelled as they are pronounced (in contrast to languages like French). Once you figured the rules out spelling most of the words should be easy except some pitfalls.
If a long word just seems like a mess of letters to you: Write it down separated into syllables. You can use duden.de to get the correct separation.
The articles are easy? Ho ho ho just you wait. der/das/die is just the beginning. It gets way more complicated when you get to cases, not to mention relative pronouns.
I actually find vocab to be the easiest because a lot of the words are made of simple base words and the spelling and pronunciation is very consistent. e.g. Zeug (stuff/gear), Flugzeug (airplane), Fahrzeug (vehicle), Werkzeug (tool), Feuerzeug (lighter), Spielzeug (toy), Spiel (game), Spieler (player), spielen (to play), Schauspieler (actor), etc.
Either way I would suggest memrise to help get stuff into your memory.
As for how the language flows and the grammar, I highly recommend a book or other sources. German grammar is hard. Perhaps start with http://germanforenglishspeakers.com/.
german and english are said to have a similarity rate from around 50%! this is because both languages have the same roots (both are western germanic languages, as you mentioned already). there are a lot of similar words and shared vocab, some mean the same, some changed their meanings in one the languages over the time. i do not know if it migh help you if you try to focus on the similarities at first?