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text 2017-05-02 16:26
Kaputt

Since my phone broke down last week, I thought I would give you all a short overview of some of the weirder ways to express this in German, complete with their literal translations. Just for fun, you know, since German is such a fun language. ;)

 

In German, cell phones/smartphones are called "Handy", so:

Mein Handy ist/hat... - My phone is/has..

  • kaputt - yes, that's a German word, so no translation required
  • den Geist aufgegeben - given up its spirit
  • über den Jordan gegangen - went over the (river) Jordan; also: über die Wupper gegangen, where Wupper is a river in western Germany
  • in die ewigen Jagdgründe eingegangen - gone to the happy hunting grounds
  • im Eimer - in the bucket
  • im Arsch - in the ass

 

Some of the above can also be used to express that somebody is completely exhausted.

Considering the stress of the last two and a half weeks, the fun of trying to save my data from a phone that continuously switches itself on and off every two minutes, and the fact that I managed to drop a metal bucket on my left foot yesterday and now have two blue and swollen toes, I think it is safe to say that I am completely in the ass.

No sympathy, please. I just needed to vent.

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review 2016-06-30 15:24
Seriously, Mr. Twain?
The Awful German Language - Mark Twain

Okay, with all due respect to Mark Twain, but as a native speaker of German, this text is a superficial and highly arrogant comment to the whole language. As a linguist mainly concerned with Slavic languages, I am regularly confronted with people complaining about how hard it is to learn German and I am pretty much used to that sort of moaning by now. And I do agree - the language is really hard to learn, it is confusing and it consists of more exceptions than rules. But seriously, I expected a less presumptuous examination from Mark Twain.

I am fully aware, that for native speakers of English it is hard to learn any foreign language. Basically because in comparison, English is a fairly simple language.. Twain claims that a gifted person ought to learn English in 30 hours, French in 30 days and German in 30 years and that therefore, you should reform the language in order to reduce the degree of complexity.

Twain says, that after the “nine full weeks“ of study he devoted to the German language, he feels that he has acquired enough knowledge to make suggestions of how to reform it and improve it. His ridiculous suggestions involve basically the destruction of the whole German syntax and getting rid of everything he doesn‘t understand about the grammar, including parentheses. I tried to read the text in an ironic and satirical way, but I simply couldn't.

I mean, come on, Mr. Twain! From a writer I really expected more linguistic susceptibility, because it definitely is possible to make fun of or criticise a language in a funny and pleasant way, but something like that would actually require a deeper understanding of that language and therefore a lot more devotion to acquire it than a study of nine weeks.

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review 2016-05-07 11:00
A Hell of a Childhood: Beautiful Days by Franz Innerhofer
Beautiful days: A novel - Franz Innerhofer
Schöne Tage - Franz Innerhofer

This important work of Austrian literature has first been published in 1974 and is on many school reading lists in Germany, Austria and Switzerland today. The English translation, however, seems to have seen only one edition before going out of print again – unlike its French and Spansh translations.

 

The story basically is the fictionalised account of the author's own horrible childhood on a mountain farm in the Alpine regions of Salzburg during the 1950s. In shocking detail he evokes his love-less, even cruel biological father, who took him into house and family much rather as a free farm hand than as his son. His has to work hard for his living and he is only allowed to go to school when it suits the father or the teacher starts pestering. Beatings and abuse are an almost daily occurence and weigh terribly on the sensitive as well as intelligent boy who as he grows older begins to consider suicide as an acceptable way out. But then he turns into a teenager. Seeing that is stronger than his father he forces open his way into a better life.

 

If you'd like to learn more about this sad and shattering book that is definitely worth reading, be invited to click here to read my long review on Edith's Miscellany.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2016-02-04 11:00
Confession of an Infatuation: Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig
Letter from an Unknown Woman - Stefan Zweig
Brief einer Unbekannten und andere Meistererzählungen - Stefan Zweig

In his time Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was one of the most famous and most successful German-language writers, but when – despairing at the political situation in his country of origin (he was Austrian of Jewish descent) – he took his own life in Brazilian exile, he knew that he was a relic of The World of Yesterday as he had perpetuated it in his autobiography. The works of the prolific author are classics of literature today and many of them have never gone out of print here in the German-speaking world, but their English translations seem to have fallen into oblivion to be rediscovered only recently. The novella that I’m reviewing today counts among Stefan Zweig’s most important and superb ones. It’s Letter from an Unknown Woman (Brief einer Unbekannten) first published in 1922 and adapted for the screen several times, e.g. one from 1948 directed by Max Ophüls.

 

It’s 1918 and a flu pandemic ravages in Europe killing tens of thousands of people. Upon his return to Vienna after three days of rest in the Austrian mountains, the renowned novelist just referred to as R. finds in his mail an envelope containing two dozen pages in a lady’s hand without name or address of the sender. From this letter he learns for the first time that he had a son and that he just died. The mourning mother, who is sick herself and just waiting for death to reunite her with the deceased boy, reveals to the self-centred and philandering novelist the story of her long infatuation for him and of her life. She first knew him at the age of thirteen when he moved into the house where she lived with her widowed mother in the apartment opposite his. For her it was love at first sight, but she didn’t only fall for the bachelor’s good looks and his charms. His refined and extravagant way of life and his writing attracted her also. Through the spying hole in the door she watched with pleasure elegant women come at night and go in the morning, until her mother remarried and they moved to Innsbruck. However, she could never forget R. When she was eighteen, she found herself a job and returned to Vienna in the hope of meeting him. So they did. He didn’t remember her and she didn’t remind him of their previous acquaintance. They had dinner together and passed three passionate nights together before he left Vienna once more for extended holidays. Although she soon discovered that she was pregnant, she never had any intention of telling her lover and forcing him into marriage. She had the child, a boy, but as an unmarried mother any decent job to earn a living was barred to her. Thus she decided to use her beauty and sell her body to rich men becoming their mistress for one night or longer stretches of time. On a night out she met her beloved R. again. He had completely forgotten her and she left it at it wishing to spend another, a last passionate night with the love of her life knowing well that she’ll be gone from his mind as soon as she will have left.

 

The epistolary novella is a skilful double portrait of the anonymous woman and the bon vivant novelist that displays both of them in great psychological depth and entirely true to life. The voice of the feverish mourning mother confessing her life story to her ignorant lover is full of despair about her loss and yet not at all sentimental or even bitter, but it’s gripping and touching. For the rest, Stefan Zweig’s language is that of an extraordinarily well educated, highly cultured and much travelled man of his time that today feels a bit old-fashioned or even odd at times, but it flows lightly and is therefore a great pleasure to read.

 

Letter from an Unknown Woman - Stefan Zweig 

 

You liked what you learned about Letter from an Unknown Woman? Read also my long review of Stefan Zweig’s Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman on my main book blog Edith’s Miscellany.

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review 2015-01-25 00:00
Dumb Deutsch: Absurd German Language Errors (auch für deutsche Leser geeignet)
Dumb Deutsch: Absurd German Language Err... Dumb Deutsch: Absurd German Language Errors (auch für deutsche Leser geeignet) - Hermann Observer I picked this book up from Smashwords with a free coupon yesterday. Regardless of receiving a free copy, these are my honest thoughts and it's just my opinion.

I'm not particularly good with languages. I can actually imagine myself making most of these mistakes if I were to learn (and speak) German to people. I was commenting about this book to my sister, reading the occassional phrase to her, and she made the same comment as well. Though I don't particularly understand all of the points, I found most of them amusing and laughed out loud to many of them. It's a great compilation with a lot of varying words and situations. I quite enjoyed it.
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