- There are 14, 15 or 16 cases, depending on who you ask. One might be accusative. Accusative may not exist at all. It depends on who you ask. Who do you ask? You don’t know who to ask. You can ask nobody. The accusative case stares at you, accusingly.
- Imperative exists in three persons. Which three persons, you ask. Plural, they reply. Don’t forget the plural imperative. You stare at your textbook. Your textbook stares back at you. The negative active 2. person imperative has ceased to make any sense. Has it ever made sense?
- You’re learning the difference between the short and the long vowels. The short vowels are short. The long ones are twice as long as the short ones. But really, they say, they’re thrice as long as that. Even longer than that. Ä, you say. Ää. Äää. Äääääääääää- It never stops.
- The verb types are easy, they say. There are only six verb types. Six. Your text book lists only five. What is the sixth verb type? It’s in the next book, your professor says. There is no next book. What is the sixth verb type?
- The vowels come in groups. You don’t know why they’ve come or why they’re in groups. You learn their harmony all the same. You shed a tear when you’ve mastered it. But have you mastered it? The vowel harmony lulls you into a false sense of security. The vowels will strike when you least expect it.
- Consonant gradation.
- There is no accusative, your professor screams at you. It’s genitive! Or partitive! Or plural nominative, but only in the personal pronouns! The accusative does not exist! He is red in the face. Why does the accusative not exist? Do grammatical objects not exist in this language? you ask. (You shouldn’t have asked.) You are met with blank stares.
- In the future you would like to speak Finnish fluently. You make the mistake of saying this aloud. The ground opens beneath your feet and a terrible voice booms: THERE IS NO FUTURE! Silly you, you think. Of course there isn’t. You dutifully note down the three different past tenses.
- Sentence replacements replace sentences, your professor tells you. He does not tell you what the sentences are replaced with. You stare at the list of sentence replacements. There are nine items on the list. One is a quantum sentence replacement. You dare not ask.
- New words are easy to create, they say. So easy. What could possibly go wrong? You decide to create a new word. You have created an abomination.
- You’re conjugating -i nouns. There’s another group of -i nouns conjugated differently. These are very old words, your professor says. There’s another group of -i nouns. These are very old words, she says. Even older words. There’s another group of -i nouns. These are very old words, she says. They are ancient words. Blood and devil words, the past whispers in your ear.
- Some of those 14 or 15 or 16 cases are fossilised, so don’t worry about them, your professor says. Don’t worry at all. But you worry. You must worry.
- You watch a video on facebook. The Most Important Word In Finnish, it’s called. It becomes clear that it is possible to carry entire conversations using only this one word. Your smile stiffens on your face. There is only one word. There has only ever been one word.
I know that there are a lot of stereotypes about all kinds of languages, and I thought I’d start with my own and explain a little about it. Even if you’re not aspiring to learn it, I hope this post might interest you.
1. “German people always sound angry.”
I don’t think this is true. German can sound angry, yes, because we have a hard pronunciation (I can’t think of a better description right now) and use a lot of nouns, which make everything sound more formal and less emotional (also known as “Beamtendeutsch” = official german). But I think the reason why people from other countries associate anger with the german language is because in the media, you probably only see german politicians in the parliament holding speeches - and, of course, 80% of them are yelling at other politicians and speaking in formal terms.
Here are some music videos in which you’ll hear a different German:
Of course there are tons of other German artists, feel free to browse Youtube or iTunes and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
2. “German isn’t useful at all. “
Every language is useful! Secondly, German is among the 12 most spoken languages of the world, and it’s an official language in six countries. Almost 100 million people speak German as a first or second language. (x) It’s also a minority language in several other countries.
Most importantly though: There are a lot of languages that are easier to learn once you speak German - Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch… I learnt Latin in school and everyone told me it was useless because literally no one speaks it. With the help of Latin, I’m now able to understand almost all Roman languages, like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. Learning a language always has more positive side effects than we think. Plus, German is a challenge! It’s different from English, it’s different from Roman Languages, but all in all it’s very consistent.
3. “German is way too difficult to learn - even German people can’t speak German properly. “
Yes, it’s difficult to learn. What isn’t? We have tons of fun grammar and tenses and weird exceptions, but that’s what makes it cool. It will also improve your knowledge of grammar terms in general so you can apply it to almost any language in the world. (Worked for me that way with Latin, which has some big similarities to German.) Plus, the basic grammar you need to master daily situations isn’t all that bad.
Well, there certainly are German people who aren’t as capable of German grammar as they should be - but I guess there are also British people who confuse affect and effect and forget to use the subjunctive. I can assure you that people whose first language is German are not bad at German. Not everyone knows the grammar rules, but we use them correctly subconsciously.
4. “I can’t pronounce most of the words.”
The wonderful ä, ö, ü, ch.. Yeah, I can see how the pronunciation can be a problem. However, rest assured that
a) 80% of the German native speakers have equally as much trouble with the “th” in English and
b) no one will judge you if you speak with an accent. We’re going to congratulate you on trying your very best to learn our language, and we certainly won’t mock you if you pronounce things wrong.
Learning a second language (mostly English) is obligatory in Germany, so really everyone here can relate to having problems with foreign languages, no matter if the problem is grammar, orthography or pronunciation. I learnt three foreign languages in school. Half of my year is probably still trying to figure out how the famous english “if-sentences” work, which verbs are used with the spanish subjuntivo and what the hell a latin ablativus absolutus is. So yeah, don’t worry. We’ve all been there.
5. “Even Germans sound so different, it’s like they don’t speak the same language!”
True. We have so many dialects in Germany that I can’t even count them, and of course Austria and Switzerland probably have even more than we do. It’s said that people from Hannover speak the “best” German, but to be honest, I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe. I’ve never been to Hannover.
The most famous dialect is probably Bavarian. Berlin and Cologne have their own dialects, as well as Sachsen, Hessen and basically every other city or region. If you wanna catch a glimpse of it, watch Peter Frankenfeld’s scene “Die Wetterkarte” (Weather Report). It’s really old and the content doesn’t apply to nowadays, but the dialects he does are really accurate and super funny - even I don’t understand everything he says tbh. Keep in mind though that most people don’t use dialects especially when they are in contact with people from all over the country and it’s necessary that they’re understood, like lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors et cetera. I don’t even really speak “my” dialect because we never used it at home. And don’t worry, most people will try to speak their best non-dialect German when they notice you’re not a native speaker!
This turned out much longer than I thought, but I hope this was helpful in some sort of way. :)
Sadly, yes. The guy who came up with the Reptoid Hypothesis, David Icke, is a huge crypto-fascist, in spite of also being a New Age guru. Some of his defenders claim that his stuff is really a Swiftian satire of neofascism, but, well, how well does the whole “it’s just satire!” thing ever work out? Suffice it to say, while there are some folks who, when they talk about shape-shifting lizard people from Alpha Draconis, they really mean shape-shifting lizard people from Alpha Draconis, there’s a very large contingent for whom “secretly a lizard” is a code-phrase for “secretly Jewish”.
(Same deal with the “ancient astronauts” nonsense. The leading authority on that, Erich von Däniken, dreamed it up in order to explain away the architectural achievements of non-white cultures, particularly those of Northern Africa and the Middle East. He explicitly cites the inherent superiority of the white race as the reason the Romans wouldn’t have needed help from aliens.)
speaking, Slavic languages can be divided into those using the Cyrillic
alphabet and those using the Latin alphabet, but in truth each language
has developed its own modified alphabet. These language-specific
letters and diacritic signs can serve as surefire clues, but
unfortunately the task is much harder with speech, since accents and
dialects tend to confuse even the most skilled listeners.
So how do you tell Slavic languages apart?
The Cyrillic alphabet:
BELARUSIAN – ў
Belarusian is the only language which uses the letter ў. It sounds
similar to an English ‘w’, and the Latin transcription is ‘ŭ’. It is
most often encountered in word endings equivalent to the Russian -ov or
–ev suffixes, e.g., last names like Быкаў (Bykaŭ) or Някляеў
UKRAINIAN – ї and є
ıf you see an ï amidst Cyrillic letters, you’re most likely reading
Ukrainian. This letter is pronounced /ji/, and should not be confused
with ‘i’ (/i/), or with ‘й’ (/j/) and ‘и’ (/ɪ/), which all look and
sound slightly different.
Ukrainian is also the only language with the letter є ‒ in Russian the corresponding ‘э’ character faces the other way…
BULGARIAN – ъ
Ъ is a solid hint that you’re looking at Bulgarian ‒ it even pops up
in the name of the country: България. Though this letter (called ‘yer
golyam’/‘ер голям’) also appears in Russian and other Slavic languages,
it is not used frequently, whereas it appears regularly in Bulgarian.
This is perhaps because it is silent in other Slavic languages, but in
Bulgarian it symbolises a schwa sound (like the ‘u’ in ‘turn’). Make
sure you don’t confuse it with the soft sign, ‘ь’.
Additional hint: ата is a frequent grammatical ending in Bulgarian.
SERBIAN – ђ and ћ
The similar ђ (dzhe) and ћ (tshe) are evidence you’re dealing with
Serbian. Serbian Cyrillic doesn’t have many of the letters used in
Russian Cyrillic; forget about ‘ё’, ‘й’, ‘щ’, ‘ъ’, ‘ы’, ‘ь’, ‘э’, ‘ю’,
and ‘я’. If you want to tell Serbian apart from Russian, you can also
look for љ (ly’) њ (ny’) and џ (dʒ), but these are also present in
MACEDONIAN – Ѓ and Ќ
Macedonian is the only language with the letters Ѓ and Ќ. The little
accents over these Cyrillic letters are a surefire way to tell
Macedonian apart from Serbian. The letters stand for sounds similar to
the English [dʒ] and [t͡ʃ] – the latter sounding really Chinese.
Additionally, Macedonian features the letter ‘s’ [d͡z], which otherwise does not occur in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Famous for its inverted letters, Russian is probably the most
recognizable Slavic language out there. On the other hand it is quite
easy to confuse it with Ukrainian, Bulgarian or Serbian, so if you have a
full sentence on your hands, it’s best to proceed by elimination using
all the tips mentioned above.
The Latin alphabet:
POLISH – ł
If you see the letter ł with the characteristic slash through it,
you’re looking at Polish. Ą and ę (which are nasal consonants) are also
giveaways but be careful, both letters are also in the Lithuanian
alphabet (which is not a Slavic language). Digraphs like ‘sz’, ‘cz’, and
‘dz’, sometimes combined into consonant clusters like ‘prz’, ‘trz’, and
‘szcz’, are clues, but watch out for Hungarian, which has similar
SLOVAK – ä
Slovak is the only Slavic language to use ä, or ‘a s dvoma bodkami’
as the Slovaks call it. It comes up in words like ‘mäso’, ‘sôvä’, ‘rýbä’
(meat, owl, fish) and is pronounced like the English ‘a’ sound in
‘bad’. The same goes for ŕ, which is not used in any other Slavic
CZECH – ů
The Czech and Slovak alphabets are really similar. To tell them
apart, look for the tiny difference in the diacritic sign over the
letter r – where Slovak uses ‘ŕ’, the Czech letter has a tiny hook: ř.
Also, if you see the letter ů, it’s Czech.
CROATIAN – đ
Written Croatian can appear hardly discernible from Slovenian, Czech
or Slovak, with which it shares the letters as ‘č’, ‘š’, and ‘ž’, it has
an easy distinctive feature ‒ the so-called crossed đ. [dʑ]
The Bosnian alphabet is indistinguishable from Croatian. To identify
the language you would have to dig much deeper and look for differences
in vocabulary since Bosnian has some unique words, mostly of Persian and
Slovenian, which is the westernmost Slavic language, is also the most
discrete in terms of alphabet. In fact, it has only three special
characters, ‘č’, ‘š’, and ‘ž’, which also appear in Czech, Slovak and
Croatian. Again, your best bet is to proceed by elimination. (culture.pl)
Hello ! I know many of you have problems with pronunciation in swedish, like how to say “j” or “skj” it’s not really difficult but you need to learn it to get a perfect swedish!
Pronounce each syllable as if it formed part of an English word, and you will be understood sufficiently well. Remember the points below, and your pronunciation will be even closer to the Swedish. And: nearly everyone, everywhere in Sweden speaks English.
A vowel is usually long when it’s the final syllable or followed by only one consonant; followed by two it’s generally short. Unfamiliar combinations are:
å when short as in hot (långt) , when long as in raw (igår).
ä when before r as in man (nära) ; otherwise as in get (träffas).
ej(nej) as in mate.
ö as in fur but without the r sound (första).
Consonants are pronounced as in English except:
g when before i, j, y, d, v, or ö as in yet (Göteborg); otherwise hard g as in get (vardagar) ; occasionally as in shut.
j, dj, lj as in yet (jag).
k before i,e,y,ä or ö like sh in sheep (kycklingsoppa), otherwise hard (fisk).
qu as kv (queer).
sch, skj, stj as in shut (stjäla); otherwise hard.
inspired by @forestlion‘s list in german, i decided to rank the same fruits and berries (plus two i wanted to include that wasn’t included before) by their swedish names!
and just as them, i rank the name not the taste.
äpple (apple): it’s basic, but it pops nicely in your mouth. gets confusing when you compound, is it äppelpaj or äpplepaj? it varies from person to person, i’m not even sure if it’s bound to any dialects. 3/10
päron (pear): this one i really like! a distinct and long ä, a beautiful sound. also a slang for parents. (mina päron - my parents) 6.2/10
persika (peach): this is part of one of my favourite words ever, persikokristall. i really like the flow of this word, and it reminds me of “persian” and things that are persian are very beautiful so, 9/10
banan (banana): it’s quite boring. but if you pronounce it with a different intonation (bAnan instead of banAn) it means “the lane” so 2/10 for multi use of word.
jordgubbe (strawberry): jord means earth or soil. gubbe means man, or more specifically old man. an old earth man? hOW is this related to a berry?? did we think the berry looked like a wrinkly old man? 0.3/10 for being confusing and dirty from soil
smultron (wild strawberry): i lOVE this!! it’s so cute! just like the berry itself, so tiny and a lil chubby. 10/10
vinbär (currant): vin means wine. this is not the berry you make wine from. sounds pretty though. 2/10 for not making sense
plommon (plum): i really like words with double m’s in them. the pronounciation of the o’s here however can be confusing. 7/10
dadel (date): a word that devides the population. should the a be long or short? short a seems to be the most popular, but according to logic and pronounciation rules it should be long. 1/10 for making people fight
hallon (raspberry): yes. good. very good. you’re able to make puns from it by changing emphasis from the a to the o, it will sound like hallå (hello). 8.6/10
ananas (pineapple): when i was like 14 a classmate got embarrassed in english class because a guy asked her “so, is it pronounced like Ananas or anAnas?” “uhhh, Ananas?” “no, it’s pineapple”. 5/10 for being so easy to translate to so many languages - except like english and spanish and probably a couple more
vindruva (grape): now THIS is what you make wine from! but usually we actually drop the vin part and often say just druva. especially in compound words; druvjuice. 9.2/10 for being cool as heck and easy to understand even when a part of it i dropped
lime (lime): well it sounds nice but it’s so boring, we just use the english word? why couldn’t we make up our own? 4/10
citron (lemon): i love when we use c for an s-sounds in swedish. it’s such a beautiful letter. adds fanciness to a word. 7.7/10
apelsin (orange): so appearantly this means apple from china? i had no idea. i love that we don’t just call it the colour orange though. and it’s a beautiful word in itself. 9/10
björnbär (blackberry): bear berry! i don’t know where the connection to bears comes from, but i love it. also love that there’s both an ä and ö in the name. 8.5/10
mandarin (tangerine, mandarine): the exact same name as the chinese language. can be confusing, idk. a nice word though, a nice flow. 6/10
krusbär (gooseberry): krus means either jar/stonkard, or ripple (like on the water surface). i imagine the ripple feeling is what you get when you eat it? i mean that’s kinda how i feel at least. or it’s just placebo because of my association. in any case, 5.2/10
körsbär (cherry): now this one!! what a wicked name this is! again, both an ä and an ö! and TWO sh-sounds! but they’re spelled differently! k and rs. i think it’s super cool. 10/10
hjortron (cloudberry): hjort means deer. both the animal and the berry come from the north, i like that connection. name is just as unusual and unique as the berry. 9.6/10
You can turn every word into a slang word. Remember that.
Take an English word and use it in a sentence instead of the Estonian word. Or add an Estonian ending to it. Or take the English word and just change it until nobody can understand it anymore. Also, when writing, add Ä Ö Ü Õ everywhere and you’re good to go.
Ich hab ja schon mal eine Österreich-gethemte Fragenliste gemacht, aber ohne die Fragen auch inhaltlich auf Österreich zu beziehen. Aber jetzt gibt’s wirklich österreichische Fragen. Nicht-Österreicher dürfen natürlich auch rebloggen!
A: Aus welchem Bundesland kommst du?
B: Kaffeehaus oder Coffeeshop?
C: Lieblingssongcontestsong aus Österreich?
D: Was hältst du von Kabarett/Kleinkunst?
E: Ironischer Lieblingssongcontestsong aus Österreich?
Hast du schon mal “The Sound of Music” geschaut, und was hältst du davon?
G: Hast du eine Mitzi Tant’?
H: Meinung zu Austropop?
I: Sprichtst du nach der Schrift/Standarddeutsch?
J: Schreibst/textest du in Mundart?
K: Apfelstrudelrandstück oder -mittelstück?
L: Was hältst du von Dirndln, Lederhosen, und Tracht allgemein?
M: Was sind die lustigsten Klischees über Österreicher?
N: Nova oder Frequency?
O: Viel wichtiger dieses Jahr: Nova oder Regenbogenparade?
P: Wie gut kennst du “Rock Me Amadeus” auswendig?
Q: Was ist deine Lieblingsverwendung des Wortes “Oida”
R: Warum verbringst du deinen Tag auf tumblr dot com, wenn du stattdessen an der frischen Luft unsere wunderschönen Berglandschaften genießen könntest?
S: Schrecklichster Songcontestsong aus Österreich?
T: Wie viele hart arbeitenden Bifie bzw. Bildungsministeriumsangestellte braucht man, um eine Zentralmatura zusammenzustellen?
U: Kennst du den Film “Müllers Büro”?
V: Wenn du eine eigene Partei gründen könntest, wie würdest du sie nennen und was wäre das Programm?
W: Bundesheer oder Zivildienst?
X: Gehst du gerne ins Theater oder in die Oper?
Y: “Servus”, “Grüß Gott”, “Grias di” oder “Guten Tag”?