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The Awful German by Mark Twain

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2021 11:05 pm
by tony h
This could have gone in the reading section. Here is a text with audio version.

Re: The Awful German by Mark Twain

Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 9:49 am
by trolley
I love Mark Twain...but this narrator is missing it by a mile. That's not the author's voice.

Re: The Awful German by Mark Twain

Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 4:44 pm
by Phil White
I wholeheartedly concur with trolley.

Most translators from German are well familiar with this passage, and it always raises a wry smile. But the reality is that much of it is absurdly wrong. Twain does, however nail the tendency, at least in written German, to encapsulate complex concepts within complex concepts, which is a nightmare for translators, at least for translators into languages which lack a case system. It is not so much a feature of German as a feature of all languages that make extensive use of cases. It is possible to establish unambiguous back-references from an element that comes late in a sentence to one that has occurred early in the sentence by means of case and gender agreement. This means that you can build complex networks of meaning within a single utterance. It is not without reason that German was often regarded as the language of science in the 19th century.

If I am struggling with an intricate problem while I am out walking Sheba, I often find myself verbalizing the problem in German. It is far neater when you get the hang of it. And it is breathtakingly beautiful if you find a master exponent of the language.

Re: The Awful German by Mark Twain

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2021 1:08 pm
by tony h
Thank you Phil. I was listening to it, agreeing with Trolley about the voice, thinking that his comments didn't seem to accord with my father's admiration for the German language. I suspect he rated it first amongst the modern foreign languages that he could speak . Unfortunately my father travelled so much when I was a child, that I was unable to benefit from his love of languages.