Saturday, February 6, 2010


"The Germans have an inhuman way of cutting up their verbs. Now a verb has a hard time enough of it in this world when it's all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's just what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it away over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German."
Mark Twain


  1. Germans just like to build and to play - even with words ;-)

  2. Mark Twain was overstrained by the complex system of verbs with prefixes that are either separable or not. Certainly he had no idea of even more verbal attributes that are enriching our language: infixes, circumfixes and suffixes. We have the means to describe a sophisticated circumstance by words, other languages need pictures.

  3. Mark Twain is not the right man in the right place, if a witness for german culture is needed. He can add only some salt and spices if a tasty pumpkin is already there. His essay about the german language is partly funny and really amusing, partly wrong, partly polemic and certainly fruit of bad linguistic didactic methods. And Mark Twain's attitude to Germans and their culture is anything but amusing.

    He is an "Anti-", and as all the "Anti-s" - whatever they are speaking about: ideologies, ethnic groups, tecnologies, foods, religions - he caches some significant aspects (even better than the "Pro-s" and "Philo-s") without being able yet to describe them adequately and justly. Odd enough, he knew german sufficiently to translate german into english, and of all books he could have chosen to translate, he chose just the most odious of all german children's books: "Struwwelpeter". It's unbelievable. Just imagine you study a language which you do not like, spoken by people you do not like and then you translate into your language a book which you do not like.

    A man who always has been humorous, lost his humor in front of germans, and so do I in front of him.

    The difference is: I see also his virtues and I tell everyone about them. He doesn't see the german virtues, or he sees them without telling them. I don't know even ONE statement of his which might elicit a positive emotion about german people or the german language.

    Too profound, Mark, two fathoms too deep. Mark them zwei mal.