In any conversation about what I do and study, the topic of learning another language always comes up. 9 times out of 10, the immediate question is: "...but why German?". I get even more when I talk about the others I'd like to learn at some point.
How often do you get this question? How do you respond?
Personally,I've been learning German partially for utilitarian purposes: I hope to become a historian at some point, and Germany and countries further east have turned into an early interest. People seem to accept that more easily than "for fun".
Yep, I was talking to one of my teachers one day and I mentioned I was doing German, "Why would you want to learn German?!" and all my classmates: "Why are you learning a language outside of school for your own good!??!?!?!? NERD!!!"
How rude of your classmates and how wrong to call you a nerd for wanting to expand your knowledge and learn a new language outside of class! Nevermind them, they are silly and ignorant. Good for you for taking the initiative to learn a new language just for the sake of it! It does a brain good. :)
I know that very well... We have to learn German at school and most of my classmates don't bother studying so when I told them I was learning vocabulary other than what's in our textbooks they were like: "Why the hell would you do that? You can speak English! And German is such an unuseful language!" (Btw I live in the Czech Rep. with Germany and Austria right next to us. It IS useful) I rather not tell them anything at all :)
Because I learned it at school many years ago .... because my mother speaks it (and it's embarrassing that I can't speak it well) ... because I love skiing, and Austria is a great place to ski....
.. but really - I want to. What other reason do I need? ;)
Your reasoning is amazing. Austria is a great place to ski.... THATS AWESOME DUDE!
Hi Reichtangle.. I am a Tanzanian and I have never been out of the country. I learn German for no reason other than for fun. In the secondary school where i was studying we had German volunteers working for a year and then new ones come. They used to be good friends of mine (as they were teaching me ICT). So one of those guys convinced me to learn German back then.. so that we could speak in German.. then he gave me an idea that one can easily apply for University studies in Germany if you are good in German.. it was in 2012... so since then I have been learning the language just in order to communicate with those friends of mine. i am not sure whether i will really get a golden chance to study in Germany, maybe time will tell :-)
Well, I am learning it because I am a fan of a science fiction series, Perry Rhodan. It has over 3.000 books, describing a fascinating "what if" universe. In Brazil, only about 500 books were published, and I am getting a little tired of reading them over and over again (I am a voracious reader!). ;o)
You do know that Perry Rhodan was also released on tapes and CDs? You might even be able to listen to them; I did as a child.
NO, I didn't know that! Thank you VERY much. Maybe I will learn to listen to German, after all. ;o)
As someone who has asked this question before, it's not always meant in a bad way! German's an interesting choice, at least in parts of the world where you don't run across it that much. Anyway, I'm a linguaphile; if you're studying anything, it's going to spark my interest, haha.
I took it back in college because I was studying philosophy and liked some of the German writers a lot. Also was interested in German lit in general. Now I'm trying to rebuild what I've forgotten so that I can continue, though it'll be a while before I can give it the attention it deserves.
My son is among 4 students who have chosen German in high school. Other choices were Spanish and French. There are about 1000 students in his school.
I began learning German because my oma is from Vienna, my mother grew up speaking both German and English, and my opa is also fluent in German and spent a good deal of time in Austria -- so I always heard snatches of German growing up, and I felt that I should have learned it much earlier. The largest and most recent portion of my ancestry is either Austrian or German, with the second largest being Welsh (which I'm also interested in, but has proven a more difficult nut to crack, so to speak), so there is also that.
If I had the time and the ability, I would probably set out to learn every language there is, though. I find the differences and similarities in languages to be quite interesting, and I don't see how knowing more languages could possibly be a bad thing. It opens up the possibility of reading more books, if nothing else, and of being able to communicate more readily with a greater number and variety of people. "I wanted to learn it" doesn't strike me as at all a bad reason!
If people actually think learning German is weird and random... WTF am I doing with my life lol I learned Dutch & am going to learn Swedish.
German is actually hella useful in Europe, there's like 200 million speakers of the language across Europe and if you speak German well then it's easy to learn any other Germanic language because of all the grammar similarities and cognates. It comes way more naturally.
I never though anyone would question a German learner... This is maybe why I don't tell anyone about the languages I learn XD
200 million German speakers I doubt it. Thats 30% of Europe, more like 90 million as first language and 30 million as second language according to wiki and other sources. But still the most common language of Europe.
200 isn't 30% of 742 by the way and English is the most common language in Europe FYI
As first language, English is not the most common language but whatever buddy! 200 million German speakers lol
Beats playing computer games or watching tv.
I've only just started with turkish and haven't told anybody yet, but wow, what a beautiful language. It's good to finally learn a non indo-european language (did one semester of japanese but nothing really stuck). But yeah, why German :-D
Yes I get that a lot, especially when Spanish is nützlich and praktisch but Deutsch is not.
You are so right, the Antwort, fun, doesn't count. Maybe it's not just Germans who are practical (or maybe it's the people I talk to!)?
Great question. I've thought of a million fun answers to make up for this question but in the end they aren't paying for me so it really doesn't matter but….
Preventing Alzheimer's is also a good answer and even though young, it's never to early to start and it is as good an answer as any except it doesn't speak to German specifically over Spanish or to learn another language in general anyway.
If I'm feeling talkative I mention that Deutsch is the #1 language in the EU (according the internet which lies, etc ~100 million speakers?) but that then opens up a whole can of worms in that they counter sometimes with GLOBAL speakers that trump the EU speakers for German. I mention the strong German economy but that goes no where when you put it up against Mandarin or others. It's a challenge I say. I don't know, maybe, it is just fun??!!!!!
- Why do you learn German?
- I like it.
- But there are so much better languages to learn?!
- Well, what should I learn?
- Spanish! It's useful, and practical, and it's spoken by so many people around the world!
- So you learn Spanish?
- Um, no, but if I were learning a language...
- Why don't you learn Spanish?
- Well, um, it's a lot of work, and I don't really need it, you see...
- So if your reasons are not enough for you to learn Spanish, but my reason is enough for me to learn German, what is the better choice?
I have pretty much this exact conversation every time language comes up. I live in Miami, yes Spanish is a predominant language here, but my interest in in German. It is hilarious though how people will think Im crazy to not learn Spanish, when even they themselves aren't trying to learn anything at all!!!! Oye! lol
I am adopted, when i tracked down my birth parents i found out that my fathers family is Austrian. He grew up mainly in England so speaks English fine, but when we went out to visit other family not all of did. I really wanted to learn German to connect with my roots i guess.
I am an odd one I suppose, but I think that the German language sounds absolutely amazing! I used to date a guy who did business in Europe, and would often take calls in German. He would have to look away or leave the room because I would get all giddy listening to him and it would make him laugh haha!!
Also, even though I'm nearly 40, my entire life people have said I sound so sweet and cute... my daughter and I sound exactly alike on the phone, even family members can't tell us apart. I just have no authority in my voice at all! I think if I learn German, that will help. But in reality, I will probably sound just as cute in German, because that is my bad luck grrr
I don't think your tone will change if you speak German. A language is like water, if you want it to be rough, you can speak like a tidal wave, but if you want it to be soft, you can speak like a little creek. If you only speak creek in your native language, don't think you can just switch to tidal wave in another. If anything, it's harder to change your tone in a language you don't speak extremely well.
Oh I know, hence my dose of reality in my closing sentence =D But let me dream, that is my motivation regardless hehehe!
I see, I just don't think it has anything to do with (bad) luck, it's just your character that will show through whatever language you are speaking. German is not harsher than any other language, that's misconception by people who mostly know it from Hitler speeches and Rammstein songs and never heard the full range of tones German is capable of.
Agreed. However, to CNDragn's point, there is something called "fundamental frequency," which is the average pitch or note at which a person speaks. From language to language, this can change, making a person seem "sweeter" or "rougher" or what have you. Of course. how the change in frequency is interpreted can be cultural or personal. But the change, at some level, does happen.
For example, in Spanish and Portuguese, my fundamental frequency shifts about have an octave up. In German, it shifts down (both relative to my native English). My wife says I sound manly when speaking German, and more expressive when speaking Spanish or Portuguese.
I always thought i spoke lower in English than in French, and had noticed other people's voice change pitch when they spoke different languages, but this is the first time I've heard (or read) anybody mention this ! I had no idea this was documented. I find it very interesting, it almost seems that even my personality changes slightly when I speak English. ( I' am native French Speaker ) This might sound crazy but I think that speaking a different language can have an effect on how you think.
And to answer the question, why German, I just think that it's a beautiful laguage :)
Hrmmm... that is very interesting. I wonder how / why that is! Now that you mention it though when my daughter speaks Spanish, her voice gets much higher, she talks ridiculously fast and no matter what shes saying, she sounds excited to say it (very expressive)...and she gets loud!!!
I think that's a product of what she has been exposed to though, amongst friends and their families, they are incredibly loud and expressive, so she learned to speak Spanish in that way as opposed to her English, where instead she sounds like a typical bored teenager. Hah!
Oye! Yeah, I know it through my time in the military (my ex-husband was stationed in Germany a few years and we had quite a few friends who he spoke German with) my European ex-bf and in my travels to Switzerland and Germany. For me, it's not only the language, but also the culture and people I have been exposed to that makes me love it so much. I still like the way it sounds though...far over the romance (typically seen as prettier) languages that people tell me I should learn instead.
My bad luck...that just me being cheeky. I say it a lot to mean "things arent going my way,but Im not going to be sore about it" My personal little idiom I guess hehe!
Is your icon from Polandball? I've never been asked that question, but I made a list of good reasons to learn German. 1: It's similar to English and mainly spoken by four European countries. 2: I love the literal words. (Fledermaus!) 3: Lot's of classical composers spoke it. 4: I heard Germans are rising on the internet. 5: My interest in the Germanics (the people and history) seems to have grown. Thanks for asking. :)
I travel there every year, that's my reason. but when people ask I say: "Why not?"
I got asked this all the time when I first started learning German. I live in southern California, so it would make more sense to learn Spanish, but I originally wanted to go to school in Germany. That fell through, but I still enjoyed learning German. Don't worry about what other people say because most people don't get it when you want to do something they don't understand. Don't let people bring you down either, I've found most people who want to make you feel weird about your hobbies or interests are afraid to attempt something new themselves. I recently started learning German again, so I know I'll be hearing the same things :) I'm know I'll be called things like "nerd" and "weird" again too. In the end, I'd rather be a multilingual, weird, nerd that isn't afraid to try new things :P
Wenn es ist so sehr Spaß, warum nicht? I still feel that my Deutsch is embarassingly terrible, because of my grammar, rather than vocabulary... but I'm passionate about it. I'm an american, a californian specifically, so I've only overheard german conversations a handful of times, and none of my german online friends seem to want to speak in german, as they are usually working on their english... I'm still yet to have my first real conversation. I don't feel the need to justify it however. I love it and that should be enough.
More english speakers should be aware of how closely EN and DE are related. My english is prodigal, hyperlexic maybe even, and that has made learning german easier, these two tongues strengthen eachother. My english is better because of german, and my german better because of english. My generation, and my country is full of people who cant even speak or comprehend their own native language, so why defend my choice to learn german? I may as well explain nuclear physics to a brick wall.
I have found great rewards in learning, it feels so amazing to read german text and comprehend what it means.
Learning is often my solace in a difficult world, and it makes me feel better.
I've ordered my first book in german, and I can't wait to crack it open.
There just isn't any reason why its a bad idea, there is no downside, there are only rich and plentiful benefits.
I'm learning German so that one day I can move back to my homeland and be able to understand everyone. Much thanks to Duolingo for providing this excellent course.
The choice in school was German and French. Most people did French but we be the same as them? I never studied very hard to be rueful. Then 30 years later a friend has just come back from Berlin. Add that to the numerous German and Austrian friends I have known since 2000, I was suddenly curious about life in both countries. For me that seems to have started with getting to know higher German properly for the first time.
I studied Spanish for years, French for two semesters and have had a smattering of Portuguese. Learning another language is on my bucket list and I wanted to learn a non-Romance language. I've been interested in German history and some things I want to read are not in English.
I live in Berlin so that is my reasoning...
But funnily enough, a lot of Americans who live here don't bother to learn the language at all (because nearly everyone speaks quite good English) and they are surprised I trouble myself with studying German 3 hours everyday without fail. LAZY BASTARDS! ;-)
You're right. I'm from the UK and the number of people who speak a second language is tragic. Generally, people who speak English as a native language seem to innately inherit a sense of elitism when it comes to languages and language learning, and therefore don't believe they should learn a second language; and instead others should learn English. Anyway, I hope to study in Germany so fingers crossed my German will be good enough! :)
I agree, it is tragic - but I think the problem is more subtle than simple language elitism.
If you don't speak English, then learning English as a second language is a fairly obvious choice (one could sensibly choose Chinese, Spanish or Arabic, as reasonable options, but English is mostly likely to be useful.) However if you do speak English as your first language, then what is the obvious second language? Historically, French has been taught, based purely on proximity, I think, even though it's not terribly useful. But Spanish is gaining popularity. Chinese and Arabic are difficult for English speakers to learn, I find.
This means there's no clear core of people with a consistent second language to build on either.
English is useful not just as a language to communicate with English speakers, but with everyone around the world. I've talked English with native Spanish speakers, Russians, Chinese... It's just the language we all know best, so it's the easiest way to get across what we want to say. I even speak English to other Germans when people are around who can't understand German, to include them in our conversation (or to at least enable them to understand what we are talking about). It even sometims feels a little eilitist to write German on a forum where most people can't understand it, it's like saying "private stuff, nothing for you!".
So yes, English is an obvious choice, whether you travel, have business or online friends around the world. But if you want to immerse yourself in a culture, maybe live in a foreign country for a while, you will soon feel left out if you can't speak the local language.
I've heard about that attitude when it comes to Americans living abroad, and it amazes me. If you're going to spend a lot of time overseas, you'd think it would make perfect sense to learn the language around you!
I also tease. Lots of Americans are also working hard at it. But I think native English speakers in general tend towards laziness when it comes to learning a new language (unless they were lucky enough to grow up in a bilingual household).
I also live in Germany but only a few months. I think it is embarassing to live in a country and not speak the local language. Also it is just bloody rude to start speaking english to people who live here. Alot of Germans I know dont feel that comfortable speaking english or are not that good at english as have not really used since leaving high school. Not sure how these non native speakers get by in day to day life or have a job unless they all work in I.T or as cleaners ;-)
I also agree that it is rude to launch into English whilst in Germany. Once the conversation reaches a level where I can no longer follow, I always make the point to say, "Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut. Darf ich auf Englisch sprechen?".
It makes such a huge difference to be polite and to not assume the other person can speak English.
I don't know that it is fair to assume English speakers aren't learning another language due to laziness. Many (although this depends on where you are) people immediately switch to English when they realize you are not a native speaker of their language. They either do this trying to be helpful or to practice their English. Both reasons are perfectly fine, but think of what this feels like to the English speaker trying to learn. To us, it seems like our foreign language is so bad we are annoying the native speakers (which is extremely discouraging and embarrassing), or that the locals would rather speak English to us.
While most native English speakers should work harder at learning a foreign language, I don't think it is laziness. The fact is, we have to work harder and be more stubborn/persistent to get actual language practice in many places.
Ja, stimmt. Es ist nicht so einfach für uns. Ich kenne diese Problem! Aber, jedes Tag werden menschen hier in Deutschland auf Englisch mit mir sprechen. Vielleicht mein Deutsch ist besser geworden! Endliche! Hehe...
It's funny also because most Americans get upset when people don't speak English in America.
Heh... yeah, I don't live in Berlin, but I still manage to at least try to learn German. They are truly lazy if the country's official language is German, but they won't learn it.
For me, it has to do with my literary and philosophical interests. As a lover of literature and stories, I want to read Hesse, Kafka, and many, many others in German. As an amateur philosopher, I want to read Buber and Nietzsche. And as a poet, I want to read Rilke and Goethe. My list grows as I discover more. So, for people who know me, German is a very natural choice.
My mother is from Munich. I spoke the language until I was about 4 and then English sort of took over since my mom was the only one putting German into my head, and I have never really gone back to learning it until now. So Duolingo is perfect for finally getting this language back and I have my mom to practice. I want my kids to speak German as well.
My mother and grandmother were born in Germany, so that was the reason I took it in school. It's been years since I used it. But now I am re-learning it because I love the sound of it. It has such a strong and beautiful tone to it :)
It's a major EU language so it would be very useful to know. I don't want to confine myself to English-speaking countries so I am learning as many EU languages as possible.
My reason is simply because to me, German has always had such a fascinating and exotic sound and feel to it. My ethnic backround is Mexican and I grew up around a lot of Spanish speakers, so in that sense, German seems so completely opposite of the sound of Spanish. I just think it is a fascinating sounding language and it is great fun for me to form sentences and speak it. Do I need German to talk with others? No. Do I live in a country where I need it and the locals speak it? No. Do I still love learning it, for fun and as a sense of accomplishment for broadening my language horizons? You bet! :D
My reason is to be able to communicate with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. in Germany. Also, because it is a cool language!!!
Because there are some dope German-speaking places and if you visit them, even basic German will help you get by/not sound like a stereotypically entitled American.
I'm a musician... Germany and Austria made the History of it
Germany is a great country
I learn it as the German speaking girls are hot!! Well I often offer that as a reason especially if my Austrian girlfriend is in earshot! It can lead to some interesting replies!
To talk to german people. It's utilitarian for me too. I was learning Spanish but I switched to German when I signed up for a work placement in Berlin.
Here's a good reason: http://lifehacker.com/how-much-money-learning-a-foreign-language-is-worth-1546400464
Because it's such a pretty language! I love listening to German. Unfortunately, as my vocabulary expands, I've noticed that certain words and such have weird literal meanings that are less pretty than I thought. I still love it though!
My reason was because Germany and the Netherlands were countries I wanted to go to (and want to go back to), and it seemed rude to not be able to speak at least a little of the native language. Since visiting both those countries I've wanted to become fluent in both languages because I want to be able to do better in the future - I'd love to be able to visit either and speak the whole time in the native tongue.
I never have this issue, as I'm a physicist, and thanks to Hollywood imprinting most people automatically think "physics = German" and don't question it any further. Sadly, the stereotype here is correct: I work with a lot of Germans and go to Germany regularly. Hence Duolingo + other sources.
Now Latin... that's been harder to defend.
It's been established that "Harry Potter" has caused interest in latin to skyrocket. Hey, whatever works!
Arabic, I was able to explain - travelled to the Middle East for work ...
Defending Welsh ... now THAT'S hard to explain!
I don't understand why anyone has to explain such a choice at all. Do people question if you learn to play tennis? Tell you that golf might be a better choice? That's just silly.
Very true. Looking at discussions like this one, I feel fortunate that I never seem to encounter these people who demand explanations and justifications for how others choose to spend their time. The world contains billions of people engaging in activities which hold zero interest for me, but I've never felt the need to tell those people that their hobbies should conform to my tastes.
I wish I had a better reason than "my employer is making me learn German". It sucked all the fun out of it for me and I've been on the verge of quitting completely more than once. And to people who mention that it is rude to speak English in Germany - just imagine the Germans over here, already expecting every conference and meeting to be in their native language, as if Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren was still a thing.
I've been asked that question many times. I'll be using duo on break at work and one of the guys will ask me why I'm learning German. They usually ask me in a tone that implies that learning a language other than Spanish ( I live in south Florida ) is ridiculous. My most common answers: I just feel like it, why not, because I can, I just like to know stuff!!......and then I curse them in Deutsch.
Firstly, because I live in Sweden and a lot of Germans come over here for their vacation. :)
Secondly, German is the most spoken language in Europe (after Russian) so it opens up a lot of opportunities, it is therefore also really useful to speak German when travelling throughout Europe.
And thirdly (and most importantly), I just love the language!
I got to German in a roundabout weg. I have always been a Tolkien fan, he was a professor of languages, especially Germanic ones. His ring mythos is related to Norse myths and so is Wagner's ring cycle. I became interested in Wagner and wanted to understand his opera without translations. Started learning German and found out that I really enjoy the language and I enjoy learning about the people, country and culture. Aside, another hobby of mine is the stock market and Germany is an important country in the Eurozone.
I started learning German a couple days ago, I chose to learn it because I wanted to be different from the people that live where I'm at. If you live in Florida, the main languages you hear are English and Spanish. I chose to start German because it is in my DNA, I'm very much into soccer and a fan of FC Bayern Munich, and I'm on summer break with a lot of time on my hands lol
people ask me all the time why i would take german over Spanish or french. i tell them it actually helps with english grammar and is a good business language (not that i would need it for that use). and they never believe me. They are all like, oh, Spanish is so much more like english and a better business language. But english isn't even a romance language, and far more people I know travel to Germany for business trips than chile or equidor. (the second group's total equaling zero)
Particularly, I've Been learning German because, maybe one day, my dream come true and, I will visit this Country that I think is amazing. Tschúss!
I didn't mean for my previous comment to sound arrogant or angry, I just, do get this question frequently, usually along with the typical idiotic nazi/illuminati jokes. Also, other Americans will often imply that learning German makes me less patriotic, or unamerican, which is stupid. I am patriotic, and I believe in what my country is SUPPOSED to be and SUPPOSED stand for. I take pride in my country that way, by being a great american who also happens to be very interested in other cultures and languages.
I didn't get to peruse your other reply but supposedly German lost by one vote to being the official language of the US. First President Geo. Washington voted English, and here we are. PS I got this question again today. Actually not a question but by a German ex-Pat who said I should learn Spanish because it's more Praktisch. Of course when we speak German I'm horrible. lol.
No to nitpick! But while English is the most common language spoken in the USA, we do not have an official language. -- I did a bit of research, and 31 states have made English their official language, but that's as far as that goes.
I mean it supposedly lost by one vote in the 1700s. There is no official language of the US.
Argh! I read too fast, I will admit!! I understand now what you meant =D Here's a lingot, just cause lol
hahaha No worries. I've had some problems doing that a lot lately:-)
I keep telling my friends if that's the worst thing that happens today, we're all good.
If we are not interested in other cultures to some extent then are we not simply too insular? Also, let's be honest, no country is perfect - every single one has done despicable things at some point or another. We may not have to be the best versions of ourselves, but we do owe it to ourselves and those we bring into this world to be that best version - to make the world a little bit better than it would've been without us. Wanting your country to be the best it can be isn't unpatriotic, just as self-improvement isn't self-hate.
Perhaps they are thinking about learning German and just hoping you will give them a reason that pushes them into action :)
Probably not, but maybe...