sábado, 26 de octubre de 2013


German looks tough, but it isn't that bad. The hard thing of it is the fact that it takes longer (years) than other foreign languages to be spoken fluently. It has easy rules, but too many. It's all about practice and perseverance. Speaking fluent English is like building a house, but speaking fluent German compares to building a skycraper.  
Why is that? Let's keep on with the building example. Imagine the game Lego. For me, the difficulty of German lies in several factors:

-First of all, the pieces have too many colours (accents) depending on the regions, thus it's really hard for me to adapt to every single person I talk to, because the words that they spit out sound totally different when you drive just 50 kms away. 

-The building of a German Lego has different instructions than the rest, namely you have to follow a different order. You don't say ''I don't think its a good idea to but the turkey that grandma bought for Christmas in the oven'', you say instead ''Ich glaube nicht, dass es eine gute Idee ist, den Puter, den Oma für Weihnacht gekauft hat, im Ofen zu stellen'', meaning ''I think not, that it a good idea is, the turkey, that grandma for Christmas bought has, in the oven to put''. Now, reading that might be more or less understandable, but it means hell in the first stages of hearing German, or even now for me during conferences and speeches, after having been learning it for three years. 

 -But it's not only about colours or the order of the Lego pieces. It's also about the hinges that join the pieces (if there was any in Lego). I am talking about the ''Deklinationen'' here, the fact that an object could have several different articles depending on the situation. For instance, a car is neutral, so you use the article 'das', but if you drive with the car, you drive with 'dem' car. If you get in the car, you go 'ins' car. If you change the wheels of the car, you change them from 'des' car...

-There's also a cultural thing, and this has nothing to do with Lego. Germans are efficient, so they want quick and efficient answers. By the time the foreigner is thinking of a correct answer (I need to do it even in Spanish) and translating it into a proper german, the German listener is already yawning. Germans are also nice and original people who tend to approach you in the early hours of the day with a sentence, a question or a joke that you just... don't expect, so your brain has to think twice -or three times more. Such questions could be ''So did you survive?'' (after an action from yesterday that you just forgot), or ''What time are you going?''. This is the awkardest question of all for me, because I tend to forget what I have ahead and apparently Germans know your agenda better than you, because they plan more in advance than you.

-Unlike English speakers, Germans use more complicated words when they could actually use simple ones. English use 'Do' and 'make' a lot, whereas Germans pick other verbs of their rich vocabulary to mean the same thing. So they don't ask, for example, ''what are you doing today'', but ''what are you enterprising today?'', or they don't say ''to take a picture'' (ein Foto zu machen), but ''capture, give place to a picture'' (ein Foto aufzunehmen).  

There are many other facts that make this beautiful and entertaining language hard, but I am forgetting them now. A German will probably remind me later.

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