My brain prefers English and German over all other languages. If English is my mother tongue, then Deutsch is my best friend. Yes, the German language often trips me up or frustrates me – usually it’s something grammatical and irritating – but there is so much to love about German. In addition to the many cognates that exist, some German words are cuter, sweeter, and funnier than their English translations. “Hedgehog” becomes “Igel” which I feel better describes the animal’s adorableness. And naturally “gloves” are “handschuhe” – literally “hand shoes”! It just makes sense… 😉
In German, if something is little or cutesy you can add “-chen” on the end of it. A kitten is a “Kätzchen” or “little cat”. One might call a sweet little kid a “Mäuschen”, or little mouse.
German also has it’s fair share of great onomatopoeia, like “Schluck” for sip, as in taking a drink. Instead of saying “shh” if you are trying to quite someone, Germans go for a harsher version that sounds like “bst”…makes me wonder if their librarians are more effective?
Finally, there are some words in every language that describe a human experience or worldly object for which there is no direct translation. My favorite German examples include: “Schadenfreude” – joy gained from other’s misery or misfortune; “genau” – a combination of concurring and correctness; and “Kuddelmuddel” – a mess, chaos, a nicer way of saying clusterf@$%.
If your German is rusty and you’d like some practice, there are a lot of great technologies available to help you practice and learn that go beyond the old audio tapes. If you’d like to talk to a real person and get help along the way, WeSpeke is a great way to begin. Another fun app is Duolingo – both companies started here in Pittsburgh!!! Which just goes to show that us yinzers are proud of our multicultural heritage 😀
The final reason I love knowing German is because every time there’s a bad guy in a movie who is inevitably typecast to be German, I know what he or she is really saying. Often, the English translation is not spot-on and knowing that makes me feel smart!