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How Challenging Did You Find German to Learn?

How Challenging Did You Find German to Learn?

Old Sep 20th, 2012, 04:21 AM
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Hi Daniel

I took German in high school, and continued it on to A-Level. I love it and found it much easier to learn than French and Italian. I believe I speak German fluently enough and with enough knowledge to hold a decent conversation with a German citizen, granted it would not be perfect.

I love German, it is my favourite language (and I love learning languages, too!)

I don't think you'll have a problem at all.

Good luck x
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Given your experiences with learning Dutch, German would be pretty easy - though writing German might be more difficult.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 06:44 AM
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>> I've wondered if Frisian and Scots retain the Germanic word order too?<<

Can't speak for Frisian, but I don't think Germanic word order applies in Scots: but then, their ruling class was Norman-Frenchified too, albeit by intermarriage rather than outright conquest as in England.

>>What drove me nuts in learning German was the constant guessing of gender due to the absence of any rules.<<

I don't think there's any rule in any language as to the gender of nouns (beyond those relating to people, obviously!), it's just one of those things that native speakers learn from the outset as a package (that thing up in the sky isn't just "Sonne" or "soleil" but "DIE Sonne" or "LE soleil", for example).

And PS, yes, there is a subjunctive in German, but it tends to much simpler to form, and much less to remember, than in French.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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There are rules about gender in other languages. I know French and Spanish and there are rules in them. I don't know Italian but suspect there probably is given there are in French and Spanish. Sure, there are some exceptions which you just learn with the word, but the majority of words do follow the rules and if you know the language well, you have a pretty good feel for whether a word is feminine or masculine due to its construction and spelling. It is not totally random, in other words. As for your example, in French words that end in -eil or almost always masculine (if not always, I can't think of any that are not), same as the endings -il or or -eil or usually masculine. That is just one example, there are plenty of other predictive guidelines about the gender of French words. Learning those rules just becomes natural when you see a word, I don't think about those rules, I just know if a word ends in -elle or -ée or -tion or -ure it is likely feminine and if a word ends in -eau or -isme or -ment it is likely masculine, for example (with a few notable exceptions, like the word eau or musée). Spanish has the same kind of "rules" and some exceptions to them.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 03:45 PM
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There most definitely are rules which govern gender in German but there are so many and are so confusing for the beginner (who is already confronted with the fact that they have to learn gender in the first place) that many teachers don't teach them. (Not to mention that in New South Wales, traditional grammar is not taught in public schools unless you are learning a language and so many people I come into contact with do not even know what a noun is.)

Some rules have to do with the morphology of the word (i.e., the morphemes or segments of the word), so, for example, nouns ending with -heit or -keit are feminine, nouns ending with -chen (a diminutive, or an ending that makes the word little and/or cute) are neuter (which is why it's 'das Mädchen'). Sometimes there are certain classes of words that all have the same gender (fish are all masculine, days of the week are masculine, most roles or jobs are by default masculine and you have to add a feminine ending '-in' if you are talking about a woman, and so on). I could expand further but won't at the risk of sending you all to sleep.

About Frisian - I've had some limited exposure to it, and it does preserve the Germanic word order. If you're curious, NDR, a German TV and radio broadcaster, has some pages in Frisian because they cater to that language community in north Germany:

http://www.ndr.de/kultur/norddeutsch...esisch937.html

If you want to explore further, type 'Friesisch' into the search box and you will get a number of matches.

Lavandula
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 06:11 PM
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Lavandula - trust that you and others here are exposing your children to your other languages. Having not had the family background/ immersion opportunities, or the discipline to learn other languages it somewhat irritates me to hear that others better placed have let that magnificent opportunity slip.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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christina,
the Italian nouns rules are similar to Spanish ( with the usual exceptions) I find both even easier to follow than French.
As for German, the teacher mentioned that 40 % of some endings indicates that the noun is "most likely" feminine.
When a word for a young girl is neuter (das Madchen) and a skirt masculine (der Rock) one tends get just a bit frustrated.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Pegontheroad-- I only meant that I'm feeling wobblier in Spanish these days given that my focus has been on another language. However, in the vein that you mention, I *have* thrown in Spanish on the odd occasion accidentally for Dutch as you mentioned ("mas" instead of "meer" (Eng. "more"), etc...), which I find quite curious that I would do that as the two languages really seem quite different to me.

GaryMc-- Interesting that reading doesn't seem to impact on your verbal skills in German. I have a similar experience... although I speak French generally well, I stumble in ways speaking that I feel don't reflect that I read in French I'd say at nearly the same level as I read in English. Despite this disconnect, I do think my reading has helped the quality of my speaking but in a more gradual way.

PatrickLondon, Lavandula-- Thanks for the clarification regarding Scots and Frisian. MY theory now is it appears that the Germanic word order got shuffled as it crossed over the rough waters of the North Sea.

danon, christina, PegontheRoad, PatrickLondon-- I'm enjoying the asides regarding gender & subjunctive. Gender I find adds to chore of picking up new words (hard enough to just learn words as it is sometimes!). It took me awhile but I'm learning to just learn the gender with the noun. Maybe because I'm used to it with French, subjunctive doesn't bother me anymore than say learning irregular forms of conjugated verbs... all a part of the game .

underhill-- Interesting that you found Russian easier than German; I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that before.

annhig, KatieLou, Lonelytraveler, StCirq & others-- I appreciate your encouraging words. I'm getting the impression that more or less Italian, Portuguese and German are similar in difficulty or depend upon the person. So "difficulty" seems like it won't be a factor in the decision. I guess at one point I'll just have to decide... tough since all three languages have significant appeal (although in different ways) to me!

Thanks to all!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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>When a word for a young girl is neuter (das Madchen) and a skirt masculine (der Rock) one tends get just a bit frustrated.

Only when you're unaware of the fact that "der Rock" (Waffenrock) originates from the kilt worn in battle during the middle ages. Even then, they didn't send young girls to war.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 08:32 PM
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Yes, I am exposing my daughter to foreign languages - I speak Dutch to her although not as much as I would like, our home language is mostly English. She has a small vocabulary in Dutch, including the numbers, and watches Dutch DVDs and hears Dutch songs and stories (I don't have millions of books, but we received a windfall of these through a friend of a friend). We will also send her to one of the Dutch community's classes for immigrant children here in Sydney (they speak of Saturday schools here) when she turns 4, and if she likes it we will keep it up.

I was less keen to start her on a second foreign language, especially one so close to Dutch because I didn't want it to get confusing, but we have been to Germany with her twice now and she seemed to pick up quite a few phrases (hello, goodbye, thank you etc) each time, so as a compromise I show her German children's DVDs (or rather, she picks them herself from the ones we have). It doesn't seem to matter to her that she doesn't understand them, she seems to follow what is going on and I am softening her up for when she does learn German (or should I say if, fewer and fewer schools here are offering it). But I only want her to do this as far as it's fun or interesting for her. She has at least one word that will probably linger, and that is 'Maulwurf', (mole, i.e. the small furry animal). We don't have Maulwürfe here, and Germany seems to have a plethora of cartoons with them, like this charming little guy, who I understand is Czech:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1d...as-kaugumm_fun

Lavandula
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 10:14 PM
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Good to hear Lavandula - so many don't, even if they get their kids a second passport. Appreciate it might be a challenge keeping them interested as they get older, but what an extra dimension to have later on. [Here in the ACT all the infants/ primary school kids are exposed to a second language/ culture, but it's very basic of course, and a lottery depending on the school (Japanese in my daughter's case - I took the excuse to do an intro course and found it very interesting and not nearly as daunting as imagined). There is an impressive kinder and public school set-up with immersion French, but in those days at least it was pretty much a closed shop to those 'out of area' and without the language at home (perhaps for good reason, but only likely to perpetuate the divide between the 'diplomatic class' and the rest of us).]

Sorry for hijacking the thread Daniel (but recommend der kleine Maulwurf ).
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 06:34 AM
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Pegontheroad-- I only meant that I'm feeling wobblier in Spanish these days given that my focus has been on another language. However, in the vein that you mention, I *have* thrown in Spanish on the odd occasion accidentally for Dutch as you mentioned ("mas" instead of "meer" (Eng. "more"), etc...), which I find quite curious that I would do that as the two languages really seem quite different to me. >>

Daniel, i had one of those moments this morning when conversing with our german guests. the italian words that I had been using in class the other night just kept intruding even though they were completely different from the german words I was hunting for. even worse, they seemed to be blocking german words that i know quite well! my excuse is that I was tired, and i know that does make speaking harder, in any language.
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 07:18 AM
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<<annhig, KatieLou, Lonelytraveler, StCirq & others-- I appreciate your encouraging words. I'm getting the impression that more or less Italian, Portuguese and German are similar in difficulty or depend upon the person.>>

I can't speak to Portuguese, which I can understand...a bit...but Italian to me is almost ridiculously easy because it's so regular, and pronunciation is pretty much set in stone. But German throws at you the verbs that are composed of the basic infinitive plus myriad prepositions, which when in the past tense scatter all over the place. Somehow, that messes with my brain cells.

I do find it a wondrous thing that a human brain can master more than one way of communicating. I have been dreaming entirely in French since coming home from France this past week, and although in "real life" it seems perfectly normal to me, in the abstract it strikes me as something fairly amazing.
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 11:13 AM
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I found German easier to learn than French. French grammar may be more difficult, but has fewer irregularities. Once you've got it, you've got it. On the other hand, pronunciation and inflection are much more difficult for me in French. German just clicked. You could pick a language based on where you most want to travel. I think I'll go for Italian next. Whatever language you choose, I agree with the recommendations for an immersion course.
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 11:46 AM
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logos,
thanks for the info,
unfortunately, my teacher did not mentioned Waffenrock.
now I feel much better about learning German

Seriously, the noun gender "guessing game"
was a turn off keeping in mind that, like in Latin and Slavic languages, the gender carries over to
adjectives, pronouns and more.
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 12:22 PM
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German just clicked. You could pick a language based on where you most want to travel. I think I'll go for Italian next. Whatever language you choose, I agree with the recommendations for an immersion course.>>

Portia, if you can cope with French and german, you'll certainly like italian. like german the pronunciation and spelling are pretty regular, and ditto the verb-endings though not as easy as german ones, IMO. but the best bit is the vocabulary - loads and loads is the same as english, and what isn't is often like french.

buona fortuna!
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 12:54 PM
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Gary,

You said, "I decided to charge my use of the language by reading fiction written in or translated into German." I am now reading the German translation of the French novel, Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. Interesting. This book is translated into many languages on the Internet. Sorry I don't have the link.
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 02:46 PM
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Tom,

I now pretty much limit my German reading to books available on the Kindle from US-Amazon.com. I got tired of spending a small fortune shipping books from Amazon.de (Germany) or Amazon.uk. Pop fiction mystery books are about what I can handle. I tried T. Fontane, T. Mann and G. Grass but still could not manage the vocabulary. I am slowly working my way through a series by Eva Almstädt set in Lübeck with the heroine being a police investigator, Pia Korittki. The series has gotten better as it progresses.

I found "Der kleine Prinz" offered on Amazon by other sellers. It is expensive and not available on Kindle.

Gary
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 03:27 PM
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The subjunctive is easier in German, and there aren't a bizillion times when you use it, as in Spanish.

Memorizing gender is a problem, but there are lots of clues, e.g., when the word ends in "e" or certain other endings. --ik, die Technik, die Klassik, etc..Lots of other examples of gender determined by suffix.

I have useful workbook, "Easy Ways to Enlarge Your German Vocabulary," by Karl A. Schmidt. It has a very useful section on suffixes which determine gender.

I have read a number of books translated into German from other languages, mainly from French (Georges Simenon) and English (Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie). The correspondence between languages is not always perfect, e.g., "alte Junge" for "old boy" in Christie, but my theory is that it's easier to read a book that has been translated.

I thought I'd read some Karl May books on my next trip to Germany. My reasoning is that since these books were written for young people, they should be easier for me to follow.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2012, 02:19 AM
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peg - you might like to try some Erich Kästner. "Als ich ein kleiner Junge war" about his experiences growing up in pre-war Dresden is a classic as is "Emil und die Detective" which is written for children. I read the former for A level and remember it being quite accessible. it would be relevant for your trip, too.
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