When you ask someone to list the most appealing languages, German is quite unlikely to be in that list. This is unfortunate. Perhaps it is not flowy and melodic like the romance languages nor as flexible as English, but there is an elegance in the perceived perversity.
Germany is a great place to travel. In the past few years I have taken several organized tours to other parts of Europe. In doing the research I notices how few if any tours there seem to be for English speaking people throughout Germany. It makes me wonder if there are just some wrong preconceptions of what Germany is like. What are the ideas that most people seem to have of Germany?
Here are some more insights into the oddity of the German Language. The last “Fun with Translation” was indeed so much fun that I decided to do some more. German is often quite descriptive in naming things. The idea of smushing words together to describe something quite exactly is a germanlanguagetrait. This gives some interesting translations of animal names when you go directly into English.
If you spend long enough in a different language, the two begin to blend and mix in different ways in your head. I sometimes find odd connections that come up when trying to understand a new phrase. Usually if I don’t know a phrase I think about the literal translation in English and often get a laugh. Here are some of my favorites.
One of the few scenes I remember very clearly from watching Sesame Street is of a monster describing near and far. He would wander into the distance and shout “far” then rush toward the camera and shout “near”; all with music and such in the same vein as the old school Mahna mahna(*). This is the idea of “going far away”, “having a long way to travel” or “living near your loved ones”. Travel seems to be all about this distance.
Friendliness is a concept that comes up a lot in travelogues. “I went there and the people were so friendly.” Or sometimes the opposite, mentioning how rude people were in a place. I was in several conversations in the past day or two about how friendly different places seemed to travelers and natives. One of these spontaneous conversations made me think of how language affects how friendly other places are.
Last Saturday a friend of mine and I drove to France, namely Strasbourg, for lunch. I love that we can do that, though still have “go to Paris just for breakfast” on my Bucket List. My inability to say Merci in French made me start thinking about language and beer.