“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein was completely correct in this statement, if I ponder back and realize the feeling of illiteracy I experienced during after my initial stay in Germany. In order to explore foreign soil, it is important to know the local language.
My German knowledge was confined to the formal greetings and very basic words. In my initial days, I was quite comfortable in university campus but when I had to step alone out of campus I was like a lost baby in the fair; I didn’t know how to ask, what to ask, or how to follow any instructions, verbal or written. I couldn’t read the boards, the names of shops, the caution notices i.e., literally anything. Now, that sounds adventurous!
I couldn’t endure it and started taking my German classes more seriously. I believe languages reflect the psyche of the native people. Being the people who loved great ideas, German sounds like a language of ideas and concepts. One should be ready to face surprises after learning half-cooked language. For example after looking at a Notausgang sign at a gate in a restaurant, I was sure that it meant “exit gate,” when in reality it meant “emergency exit.”
I always wondered how there could be any language which could carry such a huge bunch of nouns!! And the shock comes from the creation of big words ranging in kilometers! As a kid, I used to play to discover the longest word in the world and now I am sure no one can beat German there. Thanks for its ability to derive and compound the words. It allows putting several nouns in a word to form a new word.
It is often said that English is the richest language in terms of the number and range of words, nuances, and registers, but German surely has an unparalleled capacity for coining new words. If a new word in English is coined, it will be sure to get a parallel German word too, and German people are very proud to use them.
German is considered to be a language of noun and not verbs. It is almost impossible to predict what a German is saying unless and until he finishes the sentence taking out the verb at the end from his mouth. It is almost like my native language Hindi where things are mostly dependent upon the last verb. German and Sanskrit are quite close to each other from a grammatical point of view. Even the crazy-looking number system, where, for example, 21 is called twenty-one in English but literary it is one-and-twenty in German and Hindi. Long compound words are also common in Sanskrit and German.
The German dialect changes from east to west and south to north and that’s a fun to learn it once you know German properly. One interesting fact about written German is there are many words which can be argued. I still don’t know how to write Shifffahrt. The triple “fff” in between makes it unique.
Mark Twain was aware of the origins of his own language (English), and its obvious debt to German. He almost ended up speaking German, at least according to a popular but unproven legend. In 1776, so the story goes, Americans came within one vote of making German the official language of the newly independent United States. The vote is said to have taken place in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the heart of German speaking immigrant community. As said, to add extra piece of color to the myth adds that the vote was passed in favor of English only because a key voter was in the loo.
To summarize, to learn this beautiful language as per my language guru the best way is to get a German girlfriend. I still think – it can a good shortcut to learn any new language!