Monday, November 8, 2010

My German (Word) Hate List

Don't panic!

It's not as bad as it sounds, honest, I'm not venting my spleen at all and sundry...not today anyway.

We've (that would be my German teacher and me) decided to compile a list of German words that make me go "grrrrrrr" accompanied more often than not by a rolling of the eyes and a sigh of despair from Muna as she prepares to explain to me, once again, the illogicality of some particular humble word.

It probably happens once per lesson, that Muna has to, very patiently, explain the subtlties of a particular group of vowels - amazing eh? German, a subtle language, who'd have thought it?

I shall start the hate list with a word I stumbled across on my own, while I was being a girlie swot and studying some grammar;

I looked it up in my Casio electronic dictionary (a necessity not a luxury when you have to look up as many words as I do) and discovered that it means "to borrow"
...and "to lend"...hmmmm.
I'm quite used to English illiterates saying "can you borrow me your book?"* but I thought the Germans had maybe escaped this, but here is a verb that seems to want you to use it whether you are a borrower or a lender...and this despite the fact that the German language has a word for "to borrow" = ausleihen and another word for "to lend" = verleihen.

The second word to enter the list we stumbled across today and it was the reason for the suggestion of the list, I guess Muna figures it'll stop me from venting during lessons, now she can just tell me to write it on the list and forget about it (so unlikely, I harbour grudges you know)

on the list because it has 2 meanings (or at least 2 that we discussed in the lesson, knowing my luck it probably has more, which is fine, but kind of puts you off using new vocab just on the off chance you use it in the wrong connotation) it means "to tempt" and also "to irritate", fine, but how can a word have 2 such starkly contrasting meanings?
"You're tempting me" and "you're irritating me" are surely at opposing ends of the happiness scale;
For example, if I was tempted by some chocolate cake** I would probably eat at least once piece (no will power, that's my problem) but if chocolate cake irritated me (highly unlikely, the only thing I'm seriously allergic to is detergent) then I wouldn't risk eating a single piece of it would I?
Bizarre, don't you think?

So there you have it, the first two on my German word hate list, more to come I'm sure!

* which, for those of you reading this who are not native English speakers, is not correct use of the word 'borrow'.
** am currently being tempted by such a cake that has been left in my house by a very bad person, fortunately Jas likes it and so will hopefully eat more of it before it starts to irritate me in its temptation.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

Ah ha! (The gremlin has been fixed LOL)
We also have the 'borrow' (for lend) in Afrikaans, as well as one of the funnier terms I've come across - and can't believe I'm admitting this! - which is to use the word 'height' when measuring how tall a person is. (I said to my son 'come here & let me height you', as which point we just about fell over laughing!)