067 910 53 63
050 600 42 26

The Awful But Funny Gift

Dear friends, today we are talking about foreign languages. I would like to speak about the language of the first printed book. It was the Bible. This language almost became the official language of the United States in 1780 when it was proposed to the Continental Congress to establish another official language for being completely separated from Great Britain. Other possible options were French, Hebrew and German. According to the results of the voting English won by a single vote. A legend says that English won because one German-favoring member of Congress was sitting on the toilet...
So the second place took German.
It's always a part of the fun in learning other languages. Let me share with you some funny things about the German language that reflect the cultural profile of a nation.
There is one philosophical German popular saying: "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei!" It means literary "Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two." It's not a joke. It's not all about food as you could think because the German word "die Wurst" or sausage is Germans' famous national treasure. All kinds of sausages are so popular food in Germany that it has an impact on the language.
Germans say "Es geht um die Wurst" (literally, "It's all about the sausage"), which means that the subject is very important indeed. So the topic is very important for anyone who is saying this.
Paradoxically, though, there is a phrase that suggests the exact opposite: "Das ist mir Wurst" (literally, "It's sausage to me"). Germans use this phrase when they want to express the fact that they don't care about something. The real meaning is "I don't care, it's all the same to me," or even, "I couldn't care less."
So the proverb "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei!" basically means that everything has to come to an end. There is nothing everlasting in this world. As you see, such deep philosophical thought is based on the love for sausages.
Do you like sausages? Perhaps you like beer also. Another German saying is "Das ist nicht dein Bier!" It means literary "It is not your beer". But in reality it means "That's none of your business". Beer and sausage are Germans' famous national treasures, therefore the word "das Bier" in German sayings means many other things: crucial question, problem, matter, business...
It is interesting that Mark Twain wrote humorous essay "The Awful German Language" about his frustrations as a native English speaker that he had with learning German as a second language. I like one funny passage from this essay where Twain says about German genders of nouns. All German nouns have genders (masculine, feminine or neuter) which can be different from their English equivalents. A word "girl" has neuter gender in German ("das Mädchen"). The writer says:
"Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl".
German word "Gift" means "poison" and not "present" as in English. As you see, though they have similar pronunciation and a way of writing but their meanings are complete opposite. Friends, I invite you to study foreign languages and cultures. You can create fun on this way and you can get generous gift for yourself ...in English word "gift" meaning, of course.

If you want to master spoken English and learn the public speaking secrets, come to Kyiv Toastcrackers Club! We meet on Wednesdays. For full details please see the link http://www.toastcrackers.kiev.ua/