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lono

What I am reading

the weird and highly subjective way I see it

Currently reading

Flappers and Philosophers
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Progress: 119/216 pages
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page
Matt Kish
Progress: 100/600 pages
Fifty Egg Timer Short Stories
Richard Bunning

Seriously, Mr. Twain?

The Awful German Language - Mark Twain

Okay, with all due respect to Mark Twain, but as a native speaker of German, this text is a superficial and highly arrogant comment to the whole language. As a linguist mainly concerned with Slavic languages, I am regularly confronted with people complaining about how hard it is to learn German and I am pretty much used to that sort of moaning by now. And I do agree - the language is really hard to learn, it is confusing and it consists of more exceptions than rules. But seriously, I expected a less presumptuous examination from Mark Twain.

I am fully aware, that for native speakers of English it is hard to learn any foreign language. Basically because in comparison, English is a fairly simple language.. Twain claims that a gifted person ought to learn English in 30 hours, French in 30 days and German in 30 years and that therefore, you should reform the language in order to reduce the degree of complexity.

Twain says, that after the “nine full weeks“ of study he devoted to the German language, he feels that he has acquired enough knowledge to make suggestions of how to reform it and improve it. His ridiculous suggestions involve basically the destruction of the whole German syntax and getting rid of everything he doesn‘t understand about the grammar, including parentheses. I tried to read the text in an ironic and satirical way, but I simply couldn't.

I mean, come on, Mr. Twain! From a writer I really expected more linguistic susceptibility, because it definitely is possible to make fun of or criticise a language in a funny and pleasant way, but something like that would actually require a deeper understanding of that language and therefore a lot more devotion to acquire it than a study of nine weeks.