Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sometimes, just sometimes, my quest to learn German has me completely frustrated, and all I want to do is hurl my books across the room in anger, what I actually do is slam them shut and walk away, vowing to return to that particular chapter later - quite when later I don't define, later is sufficient.

Last week I tried to approach the lovely tense called 'the passive', again, it's not the 2nd time I've re-met this beauty and probably not the 3rd and it certainly isn't the last.

I hate the passive with an active passion (possibly not as much as I detest the 'konjunktiv II' but that's a whole 'nother vent) An explanation of the passive for those non-grammar scholars can be found here.
So I worked through the conjugation of the passive in all its tenses - present, simple past, past and past perfect and then through the exercises, all well and good (fortunately the Grammar book that I use for this form of personal torture comes with a separate answer book although there is usually only one answer printed even when there is more than one option, an omission which frequently has me wrenching my hair out) then I was left with the last 2 exercises which asked me to put a whole passage of active text into the godforsaken passive, I didn't get further than the first sentence before my brain started to feel as though it was being sucked through one of those curly wurly straws that children so love (but which are a complete bitch to clean out). So that's the passive abandoned yet again.

To add insult to injury I had my German lesson on Monday and we were reading Cosmo (it has to be noted that Cosmo here in Germany is not all sex and G-spots as it is in the UK, there are far more serious articles to be found in the German Cosmo, odd that, Germans taking something light and frivolous so seriously...) the article we were reading was all about taking people out of their comfort zone and getting them to try something they wouldn't normally dream of trying. When we're reading and translating (as we were) it's my habit to write down new vocab with a view to learning it, the first word from this article was a verb;

sich trauen - to dare
then shortly afterwards came another verb
herausfordern - to dare
and the last word of the day was another verb
wagen - to dare


say what?

How the hell am I supposed to know which word to use to say;
'I don't dare'
'Dare you!'
'that's a daring move/dress'


Apparently each of these verbs means a different type of dare (goody) one is to dare in a trusting type manner (!) one is to dare someone to do something and another is to dare something risky - clear as mud no?

I wouldn't mind this ridiculousness quite so much (well, actually I probably would and I'd probably still whine about it too) were it not for the fact that just at the weekend I was reminded of the fact that Germans use 1 word to mean onion (that you eat with and cook with) and also to mean bulb (that you plant in the garden in the hope that in spring you'll have lots of flowers in your otherwise lifeless beds). And then in my lesson another word popped up with more than one meaning;

gerade - straight
but also apparently means 'especially' (despite the fact that there are already 2 other perfectly good words which mean especially)
I did ask whether you could draw a 'gerade gerade line' (an especially straight line) and got a look, a look that said don't be so bloody stupid.

Sometimes I really do despair, when will the babelfish hit the shops? If only Apple weren't an American company, if it were Chinese or Japanese then we might stand a chance of them thinking that such a useful gadget should be invented, but with the Yanks in charge there's no hope, they just think the whole world will understand them if they shout louder.

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