Off topic: Why English is so difficult (part I)
Thread poster: swisstell

swisstell
Italy
Local time: 13:19
German to English
+ ...
Aug 3, 2003

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became oxen, not oxes. One fowl is a goose but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice; yet the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, why shouln't the plural of pan be called pen? If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth? Then one may be that, and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose; and the plural of cat is cats, not cose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him but imagine the feminine, she shis and shim.

Have a nice summer!


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xxxIanW
Local time: 13:19
German to English
+ ...
Mongooses Aug 3, 2003

Reminds me of a story about a film director who needed a pair of mongooses (yes, mongooses!) for a certain scene. As he didn't know the plural of "mongoose", he wrote a memo to his secretary saying "Send me a mongoose. PS: Send me another one too."

And of course, e-rich, German is far from being a walk in the park. I remember my first day learning German at university. The lecturer wrote a list of words on the board: "der, die, das, dem, der, dem, des, der, des". One brave soul ventured to ask what they meant. "The" was the firm reply, and there was a stampede out of the door to see if it was too late to join the Spanish ab anitio class instead ...


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Andrea Ali  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:19
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent , gentlemen! Aug 3, 2003

I remember once trying to learn German with a native old neighbour. Fortunately (just kidding) after a month, she moved!

Erich, winter down here and quite cold!

Cheers!

Andrea


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:19
German to Italian
+ ...
LOL! Aug 3, 2003

Ian Winick wrote:

The lecturer wrote a list of words on the board: "der, die, das, dem, der, dem, des, der, des". One brave soul ventured to ask what they meant. "The" was the firm reply, and there was a stampede out of the door to see if it was too late to join the Spanish ab anitio class instead ...


Italian is not so easy too. The = il, lo, la (singular), i, gli, le (plural)


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xxxCHENOUMI  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
Awaiting Part II and Head Count Results on German Class Aug 4, 2003

e-rich wrote:

We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him but imagine the feminine, she shis and shim.


I can't wait for the sequel. Great post!

Ian:

The lecturer wrote a list of words on the board: "der, die, das, dem, der, dem, des, der, des". One brave soul ventured to ask what they meant. "The" was the firm reply, and there was a stampede out of the door to see if it was too late to join the Spanish ab anitio class instead ...


I had a great laugh with your account! It sure rang a bell since I had a learning experience with the language.
After this harsh awakening, may I ask how many students chose to stay put in that class? I'm assuming you were among the brave survivors.


[Edited at 2003-08-04 00:46]


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xxxIanW
Local time: 13:20
German to English
+ ...
Never say die (or "der" or "das") Aug 4, 2003

Yes, Sandra, I’m pleased to say that I stuck it out, despite the initial shock! One of the reasons is that I am one of these depraved people who actually like grammatical boundaries everywhere. And with German, all the hard work is at the start – once you’ve reached a certain point, it’s largely just a matter of accumulating new vocabulary, whereas English is relatively easy at the beginning but devilishly difficult to master.

As to Lorenzo’s comment, I taught myself Italian after my first year of German and it was like a holiday! Imagine my utter joy in finding out that you can just say the sentence without worrying about cases, and that you can tell the gender of most words by the letter they end in – with German and its three articles, you don’t even have a sporting chance. And … with every new German noun you learn, you have to note the gender, the plural and the genitive form. Anyway, moaning aside, German is a very rich, colourful, flexible language which is well worth the effort.

By the way, in case I’ve painted too rosy a picture of Italian, let me assure you that the picnic is over as soon as subjunctives enter the fray. Oh, and don’t get me started on Gaelic!


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