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German vs. English

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NathanJ79's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 2007-07-31 15:07
German vs. English

First, how many people here actually speak both German and English? Why is that, exactly? Just coincidence that so many more people are bilingual in these two languages than any other that the only foreign language forum we have is German?

Second... every now and then I like to go into the German forum and read a couple topics. I feel like I can read about 25-40% of them, or at least understand that many. And not specifically, I couldn't translate, but sometimes I can get the gist of it. I am ethnically part German, on my father's side, but he never spoke it and I doubt he even knew it. So it ain't that. I did listen to a bunch of Rammstein in the 90s (who that liked metal didn't?) but I bought a pocket German English dictionary (leatherbound, not electronic) and tried to study it, tried to translate the songs (but mostly ended up using the Internet).

So, is that natural? (I mean, if you're a linguist and you know these things.) I know English was bastardized from many other languages; words from other languages get taken and styled to look English, I guess you could say; e.g. "ja" becomes "yeah" (or "yes"), "hallo" becomes "hello". "Kindergarten" is one of the most famous examples; I'm pretty sure that means the same, maybe a couple vowels get the dots on top. Plus German has a couple extra letters, like the ß ("ss", or is it "tze" sound?). I bet you can guess which obscenity I learned that ended with that one, heh heh. (To be fair, I swore a lot as a teenager, and that word helped me compromise around little kids; I could use it in place of English obscenities, and they couldn't repeat it.)

All that being said, I wonder just how hard it is to learn German. There'd be no real benefit, financially, to learn it; an American would be best suited to learn Spanish - in 20 years it might be a second official language, like English and French in Canada. And I'd be fine with that, but I do like the sound of the language.


Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 2007-10-11 17:48
depends on 'social necesity'

or how they call it. Here in europe many people do speak more then two languages in fact. They all live so close together, they had to learn to communicate together somehow. To survive in some small country one has to become more flexible.
In your part of the world, as you say, there is no special benefit for knowing extra languages so people do well without.
I learned german language when I was abt 16-17 years old. I am czech origin and to survive in Switzerland then somehow, so it was essential for me. I was then able to adopt the german language to somewhat useful level after abt 6 months, but then I was living here, hearing people talk, listening to radio, watching TV etc. It probably depends to great extend on the reason driving you to learn it. For me it was survive or fail completely.
But as an english speaking person, you should have not so much difficulty to dive deeper into the language, english and german have similar roots, big parts of the grammar are similar build up, and many words as you know already sound very similar.
I did not have this benefit since czech is slawian language and thus very much different, but I did mange somehow.

But once someone finds kind of driving power, it is possible to learn lot of things. I have one friend here in Switzerland, he is native swiss, speaks german, french and english. Then he somehow found he wants learn czech language. It was in the 60ties and 70 ties, he could not just travel to Prag and lean it there. He did buy some secondhand set of language tution records (78rpm!)with some old textbook. With this he managed to learn in fact fluently czech language within a year. He kept the strange accent comming from those old records, but today he is even able to go to Prag and enjoy an evening in a comedy theater and he understand more then 80% of all those jokes they tell there.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Last seen: 11 years 9 months ago
Joined: 2009-05-26 13:14
German, Spanish & English is in my case.

My parents went to Germany from Spain about 40 years ago. As they are Spnish, we always talk Spanish at home. So I would say that it was the first language I spoke even being in Germany. When I started to go to pre-school, I started to learn German. I was a 4 year old kid, so no problem with that. I suggest talking German already before. because of TV, Radio and my brother and cousins talking Ger at home. (Mainly our parents talk Spanish at home.) In 5th grade, we started learning English in school. At that point, I was happy to have a sattelite dish and have the possibility to watch TV in English language! Really! I still do it!

My opinion is, that communication is one of the most important things somebody should count to his abillities. So speaking 3 out of the 11 most spoken languages of the world is a good thing. Smile
(BTW German is placed 11th in this case.)

I can communicate with nearly people around the world! (Estimated number from Wikipedia)

Oh, didn't know that... Biggrin

When you say there ary similarities comparing English to other languages, compare these words:

visit - visitar - besuchen
football - futbol - Fußball
hospital - hospital - Krankenhaus

Just to mention these 3 words, the similar ones come from Spanish. The English language has it's roots in Europe and logically other european languages had and or have influence. The roots are Indo-European, Germanic, West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian, English.

The Indo-European part is found in German and Spanish, too. Now you know, why there are these similarities.

...gotta go! Smile

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