Monday, April 02, 2007

On the German language ...

During my two week holiday from German classes I'll be thinking about Mailer's POV on this language that challenges, confounds and surprises me.



German came to us originally as the language of simple folk, good pagan brutes and husbandmen, tribal people, ready for the hunt and the field. So it is a language full of the growls of the stomach and the wind in the bowels of hearty existence, the bellows of the lungs, the hiss of the windpipe, the cries of command that one issues to domesticated animals, even the roar that stirs in the throat at the sight of blood. Given, however, the imposition laid on this folk through the centuries - that they be ready to enter the amenities of Western civilization before the opportunity passes away from them altogether - I do not find it surprising that many of the German bourgeoisie who had migrated into city life from muddy barnyards did their best to speak in voices as soft as the silk of a sleeve. Particularly, the ladies.
He adds: “To every sharp German fellow, however, particularly the Berliners, irony had to become the essential corrective.”

by Norman Mailer from "The Castle in the Forest"

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11 Comments:

Blogger EHDKD said...

I wonder how Mailer's justify the fact that german language is not only spoken in grunts but also written... I guess at some point Gutemberg decided those cows and sheep would be much better off with some novel on their bedside table..

:-)

11:31 AM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

Es tut mir leid is one of the few phrases i recall...
sorry for not speaking your language, sorry you dislike americans, sorry i seem doltish, sorry i am not elvis. (one german informed me that elvis was the only good american)

sometimes I like the gutteral sounds of german...sometimes it scares me.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

dcb ...

In the words of Travis Bickel .. "Are you talkin to me?"

1. German isn't my native language.
2. I am American
3. And a dolt - of sorts
4. I gave away my tickets to the last live Elvis performance.

so ... you got some splainin to do ...

5:48 PM  
Blogger EHDKD said...

Travis Bickel ended up swimming in a pool of blood... so be careful, as they say here "Allah Allah Tobve Tobve estagfurllah"

Now... how soft is that?

(I knew this last post would attract interesting people...)

4:26 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

Oh no, I wasn't speaking to you--I know you're really a New Yorker.
I was recalling phrases I had used in Germany when natives approached me because of my american accent--now re-reading it I realize it reads that way--

i just recall a man approaching me, blocking my path, and asking me rude things about "stupid americans" Most people are very nice to me when I wander in their country, but you never forget the scary people.

7:03 AM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

I just saw the film "the boat is full"
about refugees (from Nazi Germany) in Switzerland. it was based on a true story. I can't seem to get it out of my head--that kind of story.

re: on language I always liked Dutch.
words like cocosnoot are my kind of words.

7:06 AM  
Blogger MAHIMA said...

i've been trying to find somebody to learn some german from!! i have a post on that here:
http://mahimasblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/any-interesting-german.html#links
would you be will9ing to teach me a few words!?
also, does UBERGLUCKLICH really mean overjoyed in german!?
curiously,
mahima.

9:54 AM  
Blogger MAHIMA said...

what i love about german is the sounds of it!! that makes me want to learn the language and speak like that. its such an interesting accent!

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kaurin chan said...

Hallo, I'm a Malaysian exchange student currently in Landau, Deutschland. It's somewhere near Heidelberg.

Anyway, I do agree they have a lot of gutteral sounds and all! I have so much problem with their "rrrr". It's bad enough that Chinese have problems with "r" in general(although I don't have problems with the English "r"), but the German "r" is so much like growling, using the back of the throat instead of rolling the tongue at the front of the mouth.

I read about you in DW, and I do hope you learn German soon! I don't know how it's like for an adult to learn, but for me(I'm 17) it's not so bad. Ich verstehe mehr als die Leute glauben - I understand more than the people think. Which is an advantage for all of us "Deutsch-learner" sometimes ;)

Before I came, I had 1 year of learning(once a week-2hrs) with a wonderful German teacher, and she uses "German" from the Teach Yourself series. I find it to be pretty good. It starts slow and advances at a good pace. I'd recommend you to do it with a German rather than doing it alone though.

Also(the German "well), viel Erfolg!

Viele Gruesse,
Carolynn

12:52 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

I ... So you have to tell us what that means?


dcb ... Whew!


Mahima ... Thank you for your visit and comments!

Carolyn ... Glad you found your way here. You read about me on DW? Stop by any time.

1:25 PM  
Blogger MAHIMA said...

several things :)

* thank you for visiting uberglucklich.

* does that reallu mean overjoyed?

* you're on my list there today. :)

thank you.

10:03 AM  

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