I need a review on German language

SagaSon   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 03:33 GMT
Native tongue: Portuguese
Second tongue: English
My new language is gonna be german, I have bought a dictionary and I don't know how hard German grammar can be ...... Pronunciation isn't so difficult but it has its challenge, like vowels with ¨ and the "ch"
I don't know the word order is but I've heard that its different than English and romance languages. I've got a dictionary Portuguese-German-Portuguese and word structure seems a bit complicated.
I want a new language for me to be proud of, I must confess that I am underestimating German even if I know if it may be hard because of the declensions etc. I have not completed English yet (principally Listening and speaking), should I go to German????
Clark   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 03:48 GMT
Sure, why not? German is fun!

German syntax is a bit tricky in the beginning, but essentially, it is much like English. Here are a couple of sentences: (I will keep it to a minimum because I speak a non-standard dialect of German)

I go to my house. = Ich gehe zu mein Haus.

Sometimes, I go to my house. Ebbes, gehe ich zu mein Haus (I do not know the standard German word for "sometimes").

I like to go to my house. = Ich gleiche zu mein Haus gehen ("gleiche" is Pennsylvania German for "like")

One must remember that when there are two verbs ina simple sentence, one of the verbs goes at the very end. A neat sentence is, "we all of our verbs at the end put." Ths just reminds you that German syntax is a bit different than English, and German verbs like to go at the end of sentences.
To SagaSon   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 06:43 GMT
Hi, SagaSon. I'll give you the standard forms for Clark's sample sentences :
Ich gehe zu meinem Haus.
Manchmal gehe ich zu meinem Haus
And : Clark is right when he sais that we tend to put the verbs at the end but only in perfect tense :
We put all of our verbs at the end : Wir setzen alle unsere Verben ans Ende (SPO); We have put all of our verbs at the end : Wir haben alle unsere Verben ans Ende gesetzt. Note that "gesetzt" is just a participle, the auxiliary "haben" is still there where it is in English.
Quite a strange phenomenon which seems to be a peculiarity of German is the change of word order in subordinate clauses : SagaSon likes languages. SagaSon should learn German because he likes languages :
In German : SagaSon mag Sprachen (SPO). SagaSon sollte Deutsch lernen, weil er Sprachen mag (SOP).
German is said to belong to the world's most difficult languages but if you try, you'll surely master it. Afterwards, you can be proud of having mastered such a hard language.
The things which are going to be difficult are :
1.) the articles for there is no rule, 3 genders and the question : definite or indefinite?
2.) the case system because quite often the flexion for the cases is the same but the meaning is different
3.) conjugation is also hard
4.) orhtography and punctuation is what Germans suffer from most - they reformed both but the only result is even more confusion : just an example :
Tuesday evening : Dienstagabend, on a Tuesday evening : an einem Dienstagabend; on a Tuesday, at evening : Dienstag abend, on Tuesday evenings : Dienstag abends;
or "to cycle" in the past we learned : fahrradfahren, now it's Fahrrad fahren
or we learned : furthermore : weiterhin now "weiter hin", or "with regard to" "in bezug auf" now its "in Bezug auf" - the result is chaos, but as most Germans are lost in it, you don't have to worry.
Good luck and learn German, bye :-)
Lana   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 14:54 GMT
To "To SagaSon"
What about spelling in German compared to English--is it easier? Can you sound it out, or is it irregular like in English?

Also, are all nouns capitalized?
Daniel   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 18:16 GMT
Hi, Lana. Well, I guess that English spelling is more difficult because it is less phonetic than German. The best example for me is to cough /kaf/ and hiccough /hikap/. German spelling is so hard because you sometimes -even as a German - don't know whether to capitalize a noun for in very few cases they aren't as they are treated like some sort of idiom : In Bezug auf vs. in bezug auf; or :das Recht (the right) vs. to be right recht haben / rechthaben or Recht haben. That's really tough.
Nouns are (almost) always capitalized.
Lana   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 23:57 GMT
Thanks. I am about to start learning German.

Another question: It sounds like most of the difficulties mentioned so far are related to written German. Does that mean that speaking German is easier than reading/writing it?
Daniel   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 06:33 GMT
There is indeed a huge gap between written formal German and spoken German. One example is the use of "wegen" (because of, due to) normally, wegen is to be followed by a noun in the genitive case (because of the rain : wegen des Regens) but most people wrongly use the dative case : wegen dem Regen. One has even allowed this form officially since it is commonly used. When you speak German you only have to pay attention to the gender because if you make a mistake with gender, it just sounds really weird (not if you are a foreigner, one cannot learn all without ever confusing them). But otherwise, it's no problem. Germans make so many mistakes when speaking their language - well, partly due to the influence of regional dialects but partly due to... Do you see a similar problem with English?

P.S.: reading German is very easy because German is quite phonetic. There are only a few exceptions and some sounds which are hard to pronounce.
It is far more difficult to write a text when you just hear it
to Daniel   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 10:28 GMT
sorry for my stupid question, but:

"it just sounds really weird ": What do you mean with "weird"?. I looked in a English-German dictonary and there are possibilities like:

weird: 1. unheimlich; 2. ulkig,verrückt; 3. Schicksals...

and in the German- English dictonary you get also a frequency of answers to each of the three words above.

Lana   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 13:48 GMT

Thanks for the information. I'm sure my biggest problem will be the declensions. My second language is Spanish, which does not have them either. I have studied a little Latin, so I understand the basic concepts of case.

I don't think reasonably educated English speakers have much trouble with mistakes while speaking. Mistakes in writing are more likely.
Clark   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 15:18 GMT
Well, educated English-speakers will make mistakes more often than you think. Many times in subject-verb agreement.
to "to Daniel"   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 16:08 GMT
Well, then I used the wrong kind of word : strange fits more.
Lana, if you know some Latin, then you've already mastered the most difficult obstacle, i.e. you know why one uses the cases and how. This may sound a bit strange but my experience with native speakers of English or any other language without declension is that the problem was not to learn these forms by heart but rather why we use them. This will be no problem for you. But you've mentioned this already :-)
Tremmert   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 17:44 GMT
I notice I make mistakes with noun-verb agreement when I start saying a sentence with one noun and change my mind halfway through. Can't think of an example right now. When you're writing though you can correct or think the sentence through properly before putting it down.