1. German is an exacting Language - Grounded Traveler
    October 5, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    […] is hip. Though it has been hip for several hundred years (looking at you Mark Twain). It is not lyrical or even friendly in its tone and can come off very harsh almost rude. Many of the linguistic […]

  2. » The Best Travel Quotes of the Year, So Far… » thedepartureboard.com
    March 28, 2012 @ 2:03 am

    […] From The Beautiful German Language by Andrew Couch. […]

  3. John
    March 6, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    One of my best friends is from Berlin and her german sounds so pretty…it definitely changed my opinion of the language.

    • Andrew
      March 7, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

      Wow. The Berlin German that I have heard seems a bit clipped somehow compared to the almost slurring sound here in the south. Sort of the difference between the southern drawl and Boston accent. I haven’t really spent much time in Berlin though, so maybe I need to go listen more. Glad you are seeing the beauty in the language.

  4. Sabrina
    January 19, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

    Love the music metaphors 🙂 German = drum band 🙂 I agree with you… German is of course a far cry from the melodic rythms of French or Italian, but I also think that unfortunatly, many Americans think German is much harsher than it is in reality because the only German they ever hear is from WW II documentaries and obviously military German is harsh. Which lanuage isn’t in military terms?

    • Andrew
      January 20, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

      Thanks. I am a great fan of metaphors of all types.
      I imagine there are some languages where the military is not much harsher than the normal language. Though I have a wild imagination. And honestly German can be harsh even in normal conversation if you don’t understand. As mentioned, my German teacher told us not to smile as it would spoil the letters. Smiling and Ö’s and Ü’s don’t apparently mix.

      • Sabrina
        January 20, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

        Really? Your teacher said that? 🙂 I’ve never even thought about that. Of course you’re right, some languages are much more easy on the ears than German, but I think foreigners often pronounce it harsher than it needs to be. But I’m naturally biased, so… I might be way off 🙂

        • Andrew
          January 21, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

          There is a point though. When you are just starting off those sounds are hard. The mouth has to be just right when you are practicing and smiling is disruptive. Now I can almost do it. German is vastly different across regions. I learned from a woman who spent 10 years in Konstanz. But I know people that learned in Berlin and I think their German sounds harsher than what I get down south.

          • Sabrina
            January 23, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

            Oh yes, the dialects all over Germany. I’m from close to Cologne and when I first moved close to Stuttgart to study there, I found that they all sounded very “funny” and at times I couldn’t understand what they were saying at all. Northern dialects in Germany sound pretty good to me. It’s funny how some things sound comforting vs. annoying vs. dumb etc. depending on your experiences in the region.

          • Andrew
            January 23, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

            I get you totally. The US is like that too. I have a hard time with the more nasal accents of the NE. There are definitely places where I lose out on a couple of words per sentence in the US even without any added dialects.
            I have gotten used to the badisch corner. Munich and Bavarians still sound like foreigners to me. Even after years I listen to them on the telephone and will swear they are not native German speakers. Alas, doch. I like the northern accents from what I remember of my summer in Hamburg. There is something nice about it sounding just a bit more like English.

  5. Dayna
    January 18, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

    It’s funny, before heading to German speaking parts of the world I was never too impressed by the language. After hearing it quite a bit more, I actually really like it. My specialties are the melodic romance languages – Latin, Spanish and Italian. Lately I’ve been really loving the sound of languages that are different than those, such as German, and I’m also keen to learn more about South Slavic languages. It’s all about having an open mind while listening, and letting all the little idioms charm you! Great post.

    • Andrew
      January 20, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

      There is something appealing about the “exotic” languages that you can’t understand. I thought Chinese was interesting to listen to in Hong Kong. Italian still has a poetry about it for me. Agreed that is it worth having an open mind and enjoying the idioms. Even after years I still enjoy the odd translations back and forth in German.

  6. Erica
    January 18, 2012 @ 3:15 am

    I do love listening to German – it is so interesting and different. Although, I think I murder most of the words when I try to pronounce them.

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

      Most people mangle the words when still learning any language. It takes practice. Glad you like listening to it. Even I hear it as harsh when I have been away from it a while, though does carry a sound of home as I step off the plane from a long trip.

  7. Eurotrip Tips
    January 17, 2012 @ 1:25 am

    German is indeed very appealing. Definitely on my list of languages to learn. Right now I’m in the middle of Spanish lessons 🙂

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

      Learn one then move onto the next. That seems to reduce the problem of getting them mixed. I waited until I was pretty fluent to try Italian and did fine. When I tried French without being good at German I failed. Though it could just be that I don’t get French and yet Italian seems to make sense to me.

  8. Heather
    January 16, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

    Really cool post about German — and how to think about languages in general. I loved listening to my friend and his family speak German around the dinner table when I visited him several years ago. I didn’t understand a word, but I was happy to eat and smile and listen. It was my first time being surrounded by German and I quite liked it!

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Heather. German can be a great thing to listen to if you let yourself enjoy it. I have a friend who visited me who just found the various guttural sounds funny. She kept pointing at things and asking me the words, just to laugh and smile at the sounds.

  9. Si @thedepartureboard.com
    January 16, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    Hi Andrew, An interesting way of looking at native tongues. I studied German at school and can assure you my efforts were far from melodic! I would love to hear how you would describe the Welsh language!

    Love the blog, kind regards, Si

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

      Thanks, Si. Yeah, I remember our German teacher telling us not to smile as you cannot properly make the sounds with a smile.

      As for welsh.. I have not heard enough to make an opinion. I would love to visit at some point though.

  10. Camden Luxford
    January 15, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

    I looooove this post! English is definitely a jazz band – you’ve carried this metaphor of perfectly, I think. But I can’t decide where Spanish belongs in this spectrum, unless its salsa but that seems too easy. And not entirely appropriate even though I can’t put my finger on why.

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

      Thanks so much. I love metaphors and the concept of the flexibility of English and with it borrowing so much from other styles just screamed jazz at me. Spanish is perhaps somehow between French and Italian. I honestly haven’t heard enough Spanish to be of much help. And the little that I have heard, my brain takes as Italian for a while until I really listen. Too many languages in my head sometimes.

      Let me know if you come up with something good for Spanish.

  11. Laurel
    January 15, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

    Love this clip and your analogy of German to a marching band. I think German also gets a bad rap since often when North American’s hear it, it’s in a war movie with a German guy yelling something which makes any language sound harder than what it is. Let me know when you want to try out your “used car salesman” voice, I would love to hear it!

    • Andrew
      January 18, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

      Thanks. I had not thought of the exposure being through war movies. Though I do remember a t-shirt with “All the German I know I learned from Indiana Jones”, which I guess is similar. As for the voice, I can only do it in English and usually only for a joke. 🙂