whenever you are struggling with learning another language i want you guys to know that i once accidently bought 78 ginger cookies with plum filling when I was in Kutaisi, Georgia because I was feeling ambitious with my Kartulad skills and I kept trying to fix my mistake but was making it worse. so follow your dreams and practice your language and you might end up with 78 ginger plum cookies.
This thing I appreciated about “Inglourious Basterds”, something that might not be important to everyone but is important to me, is that they hired real German actors and real French actors to speak real, authentic German and French.
German in particular is highly regional, with distinct mannerisms and regional variety that they are acutely aware of, and you can hear it, if you’re familiar with it.
Huge respect to Christoph Waltz for sounding extremely passable in German, French and Italian. I don’t know his background though, so if he’s actually German or something I have no idea.
But yes, this film was extra cool for me because large swathes of it were in German and French. A lot of Americans aren’t so into that, and I again respect Tarantino for not caring about that and just making it a real film set in occupied France, with English, German and French all pretty accurately on display.
There was a part of the opening sequence, where the two characters stop speaking in French and start speaking in English, because the German officer says that he’s going to stop insulting the French language with his poor command of it, and I thought it was a subtle nod to the audience to sit back and not bother about the linguistic details… but it turned out to be a real plot aspect. And the rest of the film never shied away from being played out in the appropriate languages.
I speak German, and I have a passing ability in French, so hearing it done well is just great. Because while I kind of put up with them and get used to them, it’s always a little annoying when American films don’t even try getting other languages right.
“X-Men First Class” is a great example. It’s not a bad movie, and Kevin Bacon is oddly charming in his roles, but his German is just horrible. It’s made fairly obvious that they made no effort to make him believably German and knew they didn’t have to try, but it’s in stark comparison to the actually German actor Michael Fassbender.
Another vlog video is up! Thoughts on languages, regarding a point of difference between my sister and I.
Every time I hear my dad speak French, I feel oddly proud of him. His French is really good.
His spoken German kind of makes me want to cry. Not in a good way.
His Bahasa Indonesia is really excellent too.
Though he thinks that his skill in French makes it easy for him to speak Spanish. Which it doesn’t.
But he put a lot of effort into learning Mandarin, when his old job sent him there around once a month, and was doing pretty well until those trips stopped.
I just wanted to say that one of the most endearing things I’ve seen in a while is an article I just saw in the seasonal magazine from the University of Zürich.
Well I think it’s seasonal. I just received it, but it says “#04/12”. Makes sense this way.
Switzerland is a country with 4 languages, of which German is the largest proportion. But among the German speaking cantons, there are several different accents and dialects. Züritüütsch is probably the more understandable to anyone with some knowledge of German, but general consensus agrees that Wallis (in French ‘Valais’) has the absolute worst, most incomprehensible, and strangest form of Swiss-German.
So one article here is a comparison and response article, titled “Ach, du bist Walliser. Das heisst Sina, Freyinger und Fendant!” with a response under “Stimmts? Ein Walliser atwortet.” The first article seems, from a casual glance, to suggest that Walliser students should try to fit in more, rather than just hang out together and stick to Walliser things like Fendant, Cholera (a Walliser pastry, not the disease) and so on.
The first part of the article is written in Hochdeutsch, more or less. The response is, however, written in Wallisertüütsch. There is no technical written form of Swiss German, but people write it anyway because German pronunciation of its alphabet and phonetics is quite consistent and standardized.
The second begins with:
Ja, ich bi en Walliser und seg mer ja nit Grüezi. Denn di Grüezinji sid ier da, wa nördisch va de Alpe läbet. Es tüet scho weh, wenn mo am Sunntagabond schich ine volle Zug richtig üsserschwiiz quätscht und z Land wa Fendant und Raclette fliesst, hiner schich laht. Da, wa Chircha und Staat no Hand in Hand gehnt, wo di Vetterlji-Wirtschaft no nit va der Korruption verdrängt wordo isch und wa immer d Sunna schiint.
I will award a million cool points to any non-Swiss person who can translate that well.
Why is practically all the reading material for my German politics classes in badly scanned PDFs?
They have all the possible problems. The text is too small, ends up looking blurry because the print gets fudged, and are scanned in the wrong direction which requires me to print them out in order to read them.
On a positive note though, at least some of it is actually written in English. This is because almost all productive academic literature, especially about politics, tends to be written in or more accessible in English. It’s either originally in English, or translated into it within short order.
A friend told me that in one of her German classes, the lecturer allowed a foreign student to answer questions in English.
I think that after the initial hump of ensuring that you have the appropriate level of German, the university itself doesn’t mind what language you speak as long as you understand what they’re trying to teach and can express that knowledge capably in a way they can understand.
It’s kind of odd being on the other side of the coin. I’ve met dozens, possibly hundreds, of students who learn English and go to study in English-speaking institutions. Now I’m doing it in German, and it’s… different.
This is because while English is accepted as the international language, and certainly the academic language, German is not. So they teach classes entirely in English and leave some leeway for people whose English is stronger, because of both these things.
So here I am, native English speaker, studying in another language which still defers a lot of academic material to English.
Live long enough in Switzerland, and your German will start to change. I think it’s natural, like the way my English changes depending on whether I’m in the US or in England, or even between when I’m among Americans and among others.
Among Swiss people I use the word “luegen” instead of “schauen.” I pronounce things the way they do too.
When asking if a seat on the train or bus is empty, I say “isch da no’ fräi?” instead of the hochdeutsch “Ist dieses Platz noch frei?”
This is the case with all the other foreigners I know who learned their German, or at least applied it most, while here. We say “feuf” instead of “funf” and “nün” instead of “neun.”
It’s just a matter of adapting.
So I learned a new word.
20mins.ch, one of the local free newspapers, has an advice column. They have one advice person for sexual matters, one for romance. The romance one is typically “Oh, what do I do? I love my partner, but I met someone new…”
The sex one can sound pretty personal, even though it’s published for half of Switzerland to see.
In this case, it taught me a new word.
“feucht” technically means humid. When it’s a muggy, hot day with a lot of humidity in the air, that’s what you call “feucht.”
Apparently it’s also how you a describe a girl being “wet.” So in this case the person seeking advice is asking “What do I do to really make her wet?”
The more you know, right? I might have ended up saying “nas” instead.
“Das Missen Massaker”
For some reason the “Miss Schweiz” competition is taken somewhat seriously here in Switzerland. I think it’s because of the various cantons, competing to see who has the prettiest girl from year to year.
In any case, they made a horror film starring them. It looks like a terrible movie.
But what makes this trailer really cool is that you get to hear all these different kinds of Swiss German.
We were talking, and I realized that butterflies have the nicest names.
In French: Papillon
In German: Schmetterling
Cute as ever.
One of the things to bear in mind which makes learning a language easier is to remember that they all have things in common.
They will generally all have ways to say some things that everyone needs to say. You can group them by their commonalities, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that all of them, anywhere, have some expressions in common.
But what makes a language difficult is where you can’t just directly translate, because words can take different contexts and usages.
Take, for example, the Malay/Indonesian word “hati.”
Literally translated it just means “liver.” But Malay culture considers the liver to be the source of emotions and feelings, not the heart. So if you describe someone as “kind-hearted” you say “baik hati.” Things get quite funny when you learn that “careful!” is “Hati-hati!”
German shares some grammar and vocabulary roots with English, which is why it’s sometimes easier for English speakers to learn German, but the differences are also easy to miss, in that case.
Take the word “zu” which is used in some cases like the English “to” or even “too.”
Ich hatte zu viel - I had too much.
Ich floge nach Asien um neue Liebe zu finden - I flew to Asia to find new love.
In the second example you can see that German has a separate “to” for when you’re going somewhere.
Indeed, we use “to” for all kinds of stuff in English, but you can’t use it that way in German. In some cases it just doesn’t mean the same thing at all.
And to get past the basic level where you’re just translating from your native language to the one you’re learning, you have to understand those differences. You have to learn something about the culture, let yourself sink into it a little, open your mind to different interpretations of saying the same things.
And it’s fun, honestly. You learn to look at the world in a different way, because the way you express it becomes different.
Swiss-German varies from canton to canton, but some things they have generally in common.
One of them is taking the High German “ei” and turning it to “ie.”
I found this happened to me while I was in Münich. I was ordering a Schnitzel mit Beilage, ie. a Schnitzel with accompaniment. But instead of the “ei” sound I pronounced it with “ie.” Like a Swiss, I said “Bielage.” They might spell it with a “y” instead of “ie.”
The guy felt the need to correct me. And I realized that I carry more Swiss German around than I really should.
Similarly, “eu” sounds typically become “üü” sounds, ie. Leute becomes Lüüte.
Bring the two together and you can say Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch) the way the Swiss do: Schwyzertüütsch.
German pronunciation was something my parents never fully got the hang of. They had a fairly big problem having to learn the language in Switzerland, where no one pronounces things how they teach you to.
In Switzerland, generally speaking, they’re a lot harder on the “ch” sound. It sounds like you’re getting spit together.
High German is a lot softer on this, it’s relatively subtle.
My parents, though, had to reconcile their pronunciation by pronouncing it short and hard, like a “k.” They’ve been doing it like this for a long time, and I think their teachers encouraged it because otherwise they might just get caught up on that pronunciation and not let themselves progress past it.
They say that locals here pronounce “München” with the “ch” as a soft “sch” sound. They don’t. It’s still “ch” but it’s just softer. Perhaps local Bayerisch, which I haven’t singled out, is different, but from these days I haven’t heard it.
I tried pointing it out to my dad, but he’s the kind of person who likes to accumulate information and act knowledgable, and then later has some trouble reconciliating it with new evidence. He’ll say “Aha, that’s how people are. I don’t think you’ve heard it, that’s all.”
Ahh well. It’s to be expected when you learn a language faster and better than your parents.