Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Stuff for Germans

(I had to read this out loud to get the full flavor of it, and the woman in the next office is convinced I'm off my rocker.  Although it's possible she's felt this way before).


German is a relatively easy language. If you know Latin you're used to declensions and can learn German without great difficulty.

That's what German teachers tell you at the first lesson. Then you start studying the der, die, das, den... and they tell you that everything follows a logical order.

So it's easy. And to prove it, let's look at an example more closely:

You sign up for first-year German and go out and buy the textbook.

It's a beautiful, expensive, hard-bound book, published in Dortmund. The book mentions the customs of the Hottentots (Hottentotten in German).

The book tells us that when opossums (Beutelratten) are captured, they are placed in cages (Kasten) with bars made of wood slats (Lattengitter) to keep them from escaping.

These particular cages are called Lattengitterkasten in German and when there are opossums inside them they are known as Beutelrattenlattengitterkasten.

One day, the Hottentot police arrested a would-be murderer (Attentater), who allegedly tried to kill a Hottentot mother (mutter).

Her son is a good-for-nothing stutterer (Stottertrottel), so his mother is, therefore, a Hottentottenstottertrottelmutter and her would-be murderer is a Hottentottenstottertrottelmutterattentater.

Easy, right?

So the police captured the suspect and put him, temporarily, in an opossum cage (Beutelrattenlattengitterkasten) for safe-keeping until they could take him to jail, but the prisoner escaped!

A search ensued and a Hottentot warrior cried out, "I have captured the murder suspect (den Attentater)!"

"Yes? Which one?" asked the chieftain.

"The Beutelrattenlattengitterkastenattentater!" replied the warrior.

"What? The murder suspect who was in the opossum cage?" asked the Hottentot chieftain.

"That's right," said the warrior, "the Hottentottenstottertrottelmutterattentater."

By now you know enough German to understand that he's talking about the would-be murderer of the mother of the good-for-nothing Hottentot stutterer, right?

"Oh, I see", says the Hottentot chieftain, "why didn't you say so right away? You could have begun by saying that you had captured the ... wait for it.......


(sent by Jen in Oz).


Sam said...

Oh my! Yet another use of my H.S. Latin. Thanks! But to really get tongue tied, try Gaelic!

Shay said...

Do you speak Gaelic? I've often wondered how my name (Shaila) would be spelled in Gaelic.

Jen in Oz said...

don't know about Gaelic, but in Hebrew "Shaila" means "question"!

Shay said...

I've been told that in Hindi it's the name of a goddess.

Oh well!