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Advantages of the German Language

"To the romantic ear, the German language might sound cumbersome and perfunctory, yet beyond its tonal harshness, it is as efficient as its native speakers are reputed to be." writes DW World:
Ever felt wearied by the world, angst at the thought of the future or completely drained of energy? Chances are you have, but will have had to fish around inarticulately for whole streams of words to describe your state of being. Not so in German, where words like weltschmerz (world-weariness), zukunftsangst (fear of the future), kreislaufkollaps (circulatory collapse) and morgenmuffel (a person who is grumpy in the morning) have their hard-earned places in the national lexicon. Where then, are our succinct English equivalents? The short answer is that there are none. That language does not always translate tidily is no secret, but how is it that somewhere along the way, words which become an integral part of one language are deemed unnecessary in another. (...)
The thing about the German language is that whilst it is systematic, it is also highly flexible, and wonderfully efficient. It's like a huge tub of "Legos" offering endless opportunities for building words and concise means of self-expression. Weld together three completely unrelated words to make one new one which wastes not a single syllable in beating around the bush. As Albrecht Plewnia of the Institute for German Language says, the composite nature of German makes it much easier to invent new words to clearly reflect the issues of the moment.
Related: When German Words Travel, Our Zeitgeist Goes Oom-Pah-Pah


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2020 on :

My favorite German composite word: Doppelhaushälfte.

David on :

I am a lover and booster of the German language, but it has fallen on hard times in the US. The assault on German actually began with Mark Twain: [url=]The Awful German Language[/url]. Hilarious!

2020 on :

Every language has its beauty, David and learning another language is the best way to realize that people of all tongues and colors are part of the same - soul. Or should I say spirit? Everything that is really important for civilisation is already written. Much of that in dead languages, originally, but the truth prevails in every language through all times. "You don't have to be a jew to disapprove murder." (Roger Waters) Read Cicero's De legibus. In your language. Follow him and his companions' walk through sunny meadows, defining the fundamentals of law and conscience in the most reasonable - and beautiful way! A book that still sells after 2000 years seems to be worth reading. On the other hand: I don't mind make a joke about anything, depends on with whom I'm with, and sometimes I also have to apologize when I've gone to far. Why not about the 'Awful German Language' or, as I sometimes do, "The Cowardly English Langugae'? You see the beauty in this idea, David? Ha! Got ya! By the way: By language Germans and Russian are brothers. But we still can mock each other for those 'obscure letters'. Guten Rutsch!

David on :

2020, Я очень люблю русский язык

2020 on :

@ David: Sehr Bleistift!

Mad Minerva on :

I confess--please don't be angry, Joerg!--that in school I've never liked the German language. Then I finally figured out WHY. In graduate school, I was required to learn some academic reading German. I hated it. I hated learning a language only so I could read academic publications (they are very often dense and obscure in any language, much less in academic German). At one point, things became so bad that I moaned to a sympathetic German friend about it. I then asked her, "Is it easier for you because you are a native German speaker?" She replied, "What? NO!" She then said she reads sometimes English translations if they are available. She told me: "Academic German is not real German! Nobody really talks like that." I asked another German friend, who complained that academic German only reinforced negative stereotypes about Germans. (He then ranted about "those old German positivists" whose "dissertations are only lists of items with no analysis at all.") For me, learning academic German was also negative since I couldn't devote 100% of myself to it. I have to spend most of my time and energy in my own academic area, and unfortunately this meant that I could only scrape by in German. I ended up feeling like it was a high-speed train that had left without me, and I was constantly running behind it, waving frantically and yelling, "Wait, wait!" Amazingly enough, I'm beginning finally to like German. I think it's partly because I'm no longer in classes, partly because I've been making more and more wonderful German friends both here inthe US and abroad, and partly because those German friends have been trying to teach me about German literature. (OK, the books they give me are translations, but hey, better than nothing, and I have to start somewhere.) Mark Twain was hilariously funny with "The Awful German Language," but it's also a lovely language--as long as I don't have to read always words like Quellenforschung and a million kinds of Geschichte and Dichtung.

mbast on :

Tonal harshness, is it? Believe me, you don't know what tonal harshness is until you've spoken Dutch ;-). And Minerva: don't despair, the more you actually speak German with Germans, the more you're going to like it. Not just because you'll be able to put your "Weltschmerz" in words, but because you'll actually be able to understand the nuances of what the Germans are saying. And despite the image of Germans being rather curt and to the point, you'll find that, like in any other language, nuances matter ... a lot. They can even make German a very beautiful language, believe it or not. Do yourself a favor, though: forget about academic German or worse, that bureaucratic horror they call "Amtsdeutsch".

Zyme on :

I often have the impression that german language can become quite complicated and straining when you try to express something as precisely as possible. Just take a look at our laws. Yet it is the most sufficient language I know. Expressing a matter precisely in french or english is simply horrible. The fact that german is favored especially in technical science pains me even more - is there no language around that is more efficient? Hopefully I will have the opportunity to learn japanese in the future, a language which (I believe) might outdo german in this regard.

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