Learning German Week 10: Why?
I‘ve had several people ask me why in the world am I studying German when Spanish is a much more useful language, generally speaking, for Americans to know. Well, the answer to that is simple. My Spanish, while not super duper awesome, is serviceable. I can carry on conversations and communicate what I want. That’s good enough. I concede it’s a useful language to know, and there are lots of instances where speaking Spanish has been useful. You’d think it would be in my best interest to become fluent in Spanish before I embark on something new. After all, I was well on my way to fluency years ago before I abruptly stopped speaking it. The truth, however, is this: I don’t enjoy speaking Spanish. I learned Spanish 14 years ago because I had to, not because I really wanted it. I don’t have anything against Spanish; if I move to Mexico again then I’ll take up the chore of becoming fluent and I’ll be the best Spanish speaker I can be. But, for now, I’m going to spend time studying a language for the fun of it, not the usefulness of it. I’m having fun learning German. I might not ever get a job at Volkswagen or have a chance to live in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, but I’m having fun, and that’s all the reason I need now.
Languages are Dynamic:
I mentioned last week that when you study a language you also end up studying the people who speak it. As people evolve, so do languages. Studying languages is just another way to study culture. By studying German, I’m studying something of another culture. I’m also studying something about a culture that pertained, in the not so distant past, to my relatives. I’m a typical American mutt in that my ancestors immigrated from all over the place (America is great in that way). I’m part Polish and Scottish and German. The biggest part though is the German part. Thus, one reason, out of several good reasons, that I started learning German was that I figured if I was going to pick any language other than Spanish, I thought it should be one that I could at least pretend I had something tangentially to do with. Additionally, I’ve wanted to learn German ever since I was a kid because the German people interest me. When we studied Rome, I rooted for the Cimbri and Teutoni. I picked Martin Luther as my favorite person in History for my big 8th grade assignment. I did a report on Erik Hartmann and Manfred von Richthofen in 9th grade. I own a piece of the Berlin Wall that I got in 1989. Anyway, for as useful as Mexican history has been to study, it doesn’t interest me as much as German history. There is no practical reason to study German. It makes me happy because it fulfills a desire I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and I’m learning something about a piece of the world that I’ve only been able to study previously through the filter of a foreign language (meaning English). I think we should all do things that make us feel more fulfilled and give us a greater sense of meaning in our lives. There’s no better reason to do a thing than for self fulfillment.
FYI: Text Shorthand
Did you know that a lot of dictionaries now include that weird “shorthand” that people use in text messages? I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t how to call it because I’ve never actually used it. Anyway, my Collins Dictionary lists a few of the more popular ones in German. Here they are:
8ung = Achtung = look out
akla = alles klar = okay
bb = bis bald = see you soon
DaD = denk an dich = thinking of you
div = danke im Voraus = thanks in advance
GA = Gruß an = love/greetings to
GiE = Ganz im Ernst = seriously
GLG = Ganz liebe Grüße = love
gn8 = gute nacht = good night
GuK, G&K = Gruß und Kuss = love and kisses
ild = Ich liebe dich = I love you
mediwi = melde dich wieder = get in touch
mfg = Mit freundlichen Grüßen = yours
rumian = ruf mich an = call me
sfh = Schluss für heute = enough for today
siw = soweit ich weiß = as far as I know
sTn = schönen Tag noch = have a nice day
sz = schreib zurück = write back
vlg = viele Grüße = love/greetings
vv = viel Vergnügen = have fun
wamaduheu? = Was machst du heute? = what are you up to today?