“The Awful German Language”

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We had a particularly frustrating lesson last week, during which we felt as though the German language was simply out to exasperate anyone trying to learn it. This was when our teacher mentioned Mark Twain and how his frustration with the language led him to completely giving up on learning the language and oh no he certainly did not stop there.

He wrote an essay in 1880 and titled it “The Awful German Language”. It essentially is a humorous exploration of the frustrations Mark Twain had with learning German as a second language.

I highly recommend a read.

I quote: “Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp. One is washed about in it, hither and thither, in the most helpless way; and when at last he thinks he has captured a rule which offers firm ground to take a rest on amid the general rage and turmoil of the ten parts of speech, he turns over the page and reads, “Let the pupil make careful note of the following exceptions.” He runs his eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the rule than instances of it.”

Mark Twain was a witty dude, and this very essay is a perfect representation of his wit.

P.s. The German Language isn’t the least awful if one sticks through it and manages to see the beauty of precision and accuracy, which pepper the language’s every rule. As a result, there are some things which can be expressed in German but not in any other language. I find it rather beautiful. :’)

P.p.s. I think Mark Twain would’ve managed to author some pretty amazing German books if he had stuck through the learning of this language. He truly was and still is a gem to the world of Literature. 💍

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