Saturday, January 24, 2009


Every language has its own personality. Spanish is exuberant, seductive, perhaps a bit over-sexed, but a perfect first love. French, on the other hand, ephemeral, effervescent, has eluded my grasp for most of my life. German is respectably turned out in sensible shoes and perfectly straight seamed stockings; an upstanding but entirely unlovable citizen. But despite my unrealistically romantic idea that French will be my third language, the Lively German has found my Achilles' Heel, namely that there is nothing I love more in life than learning, unless it is change, which, naturally, is what we do as we learn. I can sense the tentacles wrapping round my brain; I am resisting of course, as learning German involves something I have avoided like the plague for as much of my educational career as possible: MEMORIZATION. For two years I've vowed to tally up the number of cases I would have to memorize but I get too tired every time I arrive at the conclusion that it may be approaching one hundred. One of the four forms of declination, the Genetiv, they say, seems to be falling out of common usage and I, frankly, have not even bothered to determine what that particular animal might represent.

But, my friends, I have found something to be passionate about in German, and that is complex words. You all know the phenomenon of the 30-plus-character German word. Well, with a bit of practice, one can see these are actually three or four words stuck together. And, contrary to all the other rules Rules RULES, creating a German complex word nearly always seems, when I ask "is that German??", to elicit a nod yes. Schön!! My latest creation: Verrücktdeutschemutterscheiße -- 28 characters -- ooh la la, as the Lively German would say. Hell, for all I know it could be 29 or 30, with a declination or two hiding in the middle of the word, to add an extra "s" or "n". So, Deutschdeklination, you've been replaced by Komplexwörter and I'm simply not going waste another second of my brain power on your Crazygermanmothershit.

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