German is the language of my father and relatives on his side, but in spite of several years of formal instruction I still cannot carry on anything beyond a rudimentary conversation and native speakers would find my German grammar to be something between amusing and pathetic. Really, I would certain sure to be that you my meaning get.
Don’t get me started on multi-purpose prepositions, confusing verb declensions and important sounding, but baffling compound words. And the German articles, “die, der, das?” The tables I tried to learn in high school still haunt my dreams.
Not that German or any other language is more difficult than English with its mish-mash of unrelated words and irregular verbs.
When it comes to languages, I am certain God has a brilliant sense of humour. When the people of Babel thought they could reach God with their tower, he confused their languages. This language is going to have weird grammar and over here we have a different way of writing. And then, with this group of languages if you say a word a certain way, it means this, but a slightly different intonation… it could be really embarrassing.
I am fascinated by languages and the patterns and relationships between them. I would love to wake up being able to speak and understand another language. If it was German I could communicate with relatives that don’t speak English and find out missing bits of family history. I could read ‘Emil and the Detectives’ or Goethe’s poetry in the original. Oskar Kossmann, a German writer and statesman was a relative of my grandmother’s. His works of history, memoir and perspective on post-war Germany would be invaluable in researching that era.
Our choir is doing J.S. Bach’s “St. John’s Passion.” I would love to understand the lyrics as they were written, but I guess the poetic translation will have to do.
Anyways singing another language is the next best thing to speaking it, isn’t it?