Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sprechen Sie Denglisch?

Lovely vintage German poster at

I have been trying to learn German for many years now, on and off. Primarily it has been for the purposes of the research work I have done but I have to confess, I don't think I am really a natural when it comes to learning languages. I learnt French for six years while I was at high school and that was something of a battle. I did pass my final year French exams though and, as my husband reminds me, I was able to book our accommodation in Paris over the phone from London. But suffice it to say, the UN will not be beating my door down any time soon for my services as a simultaneous translator!

So it has been with German. But that hasn't stopped me from snapping up vintage 'Learn German' textbooks every time I spot them in the op-shop. Today yielded A First German, Teach Yourself German and Teach Yourself More German. What I especially loved about them was this, on the back of Teach Yourself German -

Anyone who follows this course conscientiously should be able to read, write and speak the German language with some measure of success.

First printed in 1938, that sentence has a nice tone of understanding to it, don't you think? Read this and you'll probably be able to manage. Perhaps it's just me, but I find that most reassuring. Maybe there's hope for me yet!

Do you speak any other languages?

Another lovely one at


Bodecea said...

English - enough to get along, I guess, French - not much more than "Je ne sais pais" and "Je ne comprend pas", Turkish the most important sentence for a tourist: "Dolmus nerede?" (where is the bus?)

Sefarina said...

Ugh, languages - I'm definitely better at those than at maths. Let me see...

English: enough to enjoy books and podcasts.
French: about the same.
Japanese: I can communicate and navigate webpages, but am still learning, and need to.
Italian and Latin: given enough time, I can read it and understand the overall meaning.
Hawaiian: now we're entering thin ice. No, not really anymore. I forgot most of that. Still know some songtexts, though. ;-)

Feronia said...

@ Bodecea -

I would say that you have a lot more English than 'enough to get along'!! I picked up a similar key word in Japan: 'Arigato' (thank you very much). In a country of such polite people, you say it a lot!

@ Sefarina -

Sounds like you are a bit of a language star! What is the language of Hawaii? I assumed it was English.

trishie said...

I grew up billingual; speaking english and mandarin.

I think it's definitely hard to pick up a new language as an adult. Keep working at it, and I'm sure you'll pick it up fine.

Feronia said...

Lucky you - growing up bilingual would make such a difference!

I'll keep trying - I'm sure it's good exercise for my brain!

Bodecea said...

Feronia - Arigato! :-) Yes, it is enough to read most books and for conversation, but I have difficulties with peolpe with a strong dialect (mostly from USA). But I guess English is much easier to learn than German (or French).

Sefarina said...

If you examine it closely, I only speak three languages properly(which I feel is the average for my level of education). For every language I know, there are at least two I just didn't get. My shelves are littered with learning books and audios for another dozen languages (gaelic and mandarin and so on). ^^

Hawaiian (Olelo Hawai'i) and English are both spoken in Hawaii. I think it's a beautiful language, very melodic and soft, but also hard to find materials for learning.

Feronia said...

*Only* three languages properly?! - that's amazing!! Wish I could claim that :) I have tried other languages too - my husband and I did a Mandarin class and also Vietnamese when we were going there for a holiday. Not successful (although the holiday was great)!