Book cover of the “Awful German Language” by Mark Twain (source: ebook.de)
In 1880, American famous writer Mark Twain expressed his agonies of learning German in an essay titled The Awful German Language. The essay is a very enjoyable read, especially for German learners, as it satirizes brilliantly the German language and its perplexity. There are many memorable passages to quote. My favorite is this:
Some German words are so long that they have a perspective. Observe these examples:
Of course when one of these grand mountain ranges goes stretching across the printed page, it adorns and ennobles that literary landscape,—but at the same time it is a great distress to the new student, for it blocks up his way; he cannot crawl under it, or climb over it, or tunnel through it.
For more quotes by Mark Twain about German, see here.
Having been learning German for more than two years and a half (not very successfully, to my dismay), I think it is high time I wrote my own version of The Awful German Language. However, a blog post is too short to lay out “the several vices of this language,” to use one of Twain’s expressions. I will therefore limit this blog post to one single aspect of learning German; that is, why German may sound very mechanical for those who attempt to learn it.
Last Thursday (Halloween 2013) I finally decided to watch World War Z—one of the biggest movie productions of 2013, featuring Brad Pitt in the leading role. It is a zombie movie, so it kind of fits Halloween day, but that was a pure coincidence. I neither care about Halloween nor Zombie movies. When the film was being shown in local cinemas here in Leipzig a couple of months ago, a friend of mine suggested that we go together to see it, but I objected strongly on the grounds that it seemed very silly. This was confirmed later by one of my flatmates who described the movie as a debacle. Later, another flatmate of mine watched it and described it as too bad to the extent it is funny. This has aroused my curiosity, but not enough to bother watching it until I watched World War Zimmerman—the third episode of the new season of South Park—in which World War Z is bitterly ridiculed. I thought then that I must watch this film. The day before yesterday, which happened to be Halloween, I stayed in bed all day long because of being sick, so I had enough time to watch two movies—one of them was World War Z.
The film turned up to be very bad indeed, but, unfortunately, not to the extent it was funny, as my second flatemate had claimed before. From a cinematic perspective, I have nothing interesting to say about the film. It is simply a bad movie, and I don’t recommend it to anyone. World War Z, however, is not only cinematically bad, but also politically, and this is what I am going to talk about in this article.