Common Misconceptions That I Have Come Across In My Learning of a Second Language + Super Long German Word (Brace Yourselves)

People have misunderstandings about the German language all of the time. And today, I’m going to be talking about a few of those. These aren’t even the misunderstandings that people have about Deutschland (Germany) as a country or the German people as well… people. These are misunderstandings about the language. So… let’s get into it.

· THE PRONUNCIATION OF “ICH”

o If I’m speaking in German around non-German speakers on the phone or with a friend who speaks German, non-German speakers always ask “Why do you say ‘ich’ (pronounced “e-sh”) instead of ‘ich’ (pronounced “ik”)?” Essentially, what they’re asking is why I say the “ch” sound as a “sh” sound instead of a hard “k” sound. Apparently, it’s a common misconception that the “ch” in German makes a “k” sound. But… in words like “ich”, “dich”, and “nicht” (“I”, “you”, and “not”) (among many other words) the sound does not make a “k” sound but rather a “sh” sound. Words like “doch” (“but”) have the “ch” sound making more of a soft “k”. Then there are words like “ach” (which is more of an exclamation that means “oh”) that make that hard “k” sound. But “ich”? Nope.

o BUT WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM?

§ Good question. I think that this might have something to do with the Dutch way of saying “I”. Dutch and German share many similarities. In Dutch, “I” is “ik”. And it’s pronounced the way that it looks and the way that English speakers think that the German “ich” is pronounced. Personally, I think that Dutch is commonly mistaken for German by many non-German speakers.

· THAT GERMAN IS A HARSH, HARD, ROUGH LANGUAGE

o Please, please, please just listen to someone speak German. When someone is speaking German as it is normally spoken, you will see that it is actually a pretty… soft language. A language that is actually quite beautiful and not at all scary or harsh. Of course, German does not quite have that flow that languages like Spanish, French, and Italian have because there is a clear break between every word (which is helpful for people who are learning German as a second language). But believe me, it doesn’t make it rough. And yes, I will admit that in German, we have some “nasally” sounding sounds but really, if you just listen to it, you’ll see that it those so-called “nasally” sounds do not make the language sound rough. Just give the language a listen. You’ll see.

o BUT WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM?

§ I’d say that there are a lot of reasons why this is a common misconception. And a lot of them, I think, just go with how German is commonly presented in popular culture. But the very idea of this is just a perfect example of why you shouldn’t believe everything that you see in popular culture.

· THAT GERMAN IS AN EASY LANGUAGE TO LEARN

o I thought this once. And sometimes I still trick myself into thinking this. But it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s not easy. But you know what it is? Fascinating, fun, and absolutely worth it. I don’t regret learning German. Not for a moment. But it’s not an easy language. The grammar is difficult and so is the sentence structure. And some words? Some words can be super long. Super duper long. And while it’s fun to learn these words and use them it is not easy. Not at all.

o BUT WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM?

§ Cognates. Cognates make any language seem easy. For as long as the only words you see are cognates. I’ll be reading a book in German and someone will pick up my book, open to a page, spot three or four cognates and say “Hah! I know German. It’s gotta be an easy language.” Yeah… if only that were so.

###

I thought about adding more to this list but I’m exhausted right now and should be heading off to bed (I’m writing this at night but will post it in the morning). Anyways, one of the things about German that I absolutely adore is the fact that we can make up our own words by smashing together all sorts of other words. These words will not usually appear in a dictionary but they are grammatically correct (as long as they’re done right).

Here’s a long word for you: 

Oberweserdampfschiffahrtgesellschaftskapitänsmützenabzeichenpoliermittelkanisterdeckelherstellungsverbandsvorsitzendenausweishüllenschneidemaschinenmotorwartungsplanaktualisierungsbeauftragtenzertifaksausstellungsbehördenbeamtenkrawattenknotenbindeanleitungsautorenbürocomputertastaturanschlusskabelumhüllungsreparaturdienstfahrzeugsvorderreifengummibeschichtungsfabrikgebäudeheizungsrohrverlegungsmechanikerwerkzeugkastenverschlussklappensicherungsschlossfunktionstestverantwortlichenprüfungsfragebogenfragenentwicklerqualifikationsurkundendruckertintenpatronennachfüllpaketbestellformularankreuzkästchendesignerausbildung

All credit for that word goes to Trixie from Don’t Trust the Rabbit on YouTube. You can watch the video in which she says the word at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brt6F4cGFCY. And yes, that is one word. Just one word. And, though you can’t find it in a dictionary, it is 100% grammatically correct.

Anyways, that’s just me wanting to share something interesting about the German language. What are some common misconceptions about languages that you speak?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s