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Pelle_Hamburg


Member

Posted Mon Sep 17th, 2012 9:56pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

Hello and welcome! This is the new place for anything you ever wanted to discuss (as long as it isn't anything concerning the topic "Sexism is not justifiable from anyone", there already is a topic like that, I've heard...). Special feature: the possibility to ask questions about Germany you never dared to ask before and the possibility of being given answers to by a German (me) - and others if they join in. (That sentence was so complicated I'm not sure I got it right...)

@joan: please feel free to write in German
@marmotte: where are you from?

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Pelle_Hamburg


Member

Posted Mon Sep 17th, 2012 9:59pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

MARMOTTE: I copied your last post from the "Sexism..."-Topic and put it here so my answer won't be like coming out of thin air...I hope you're ok with it.

Pelle_Hamburg said:

Quite frankly: J.W. von Goethe is absolutly and without a doubt one of the, if not THE, most talented german poet of all times. BUT, and this is a huge appeal against his reputation: as fun, stirring up, poignant as it can be to read his books/poems, it's mostly boring and a pretentious show-off - especially with his later works.

(okay, now we're really off-topic here... [:-)] )

Dear Pelle,

as much as I agree with you regarding Heine, Brecht, Borchert and Büchner -- I have a rather different opinion concerning Goethe. Only recently I stumbled over his "Faust" again (in Simon McBurney's staging of Bulgakov's 'Master and Margarita' they also quoted some lines out of Faust) and once again was mesmerized by the full brilliance of this piece. The sheer amount of ideas put into one work... and in my opinion the whole piece is not boring at all, but (apart from the beautiful language) a lot of these ideas are still up to date. And although Goethe probably had a rather healthy ego [:D] , I didn't get the impression of a pretentious show-off. In me his figures sometimes provoke strong feelings -- especially with his "Werther" I was so upset about the character's whining and self-pity that I felt the urgent need to shake and punch him (which usually I don't have when reading a book). And if a fictitious figure becomes so "human" that in the reader it provokes such strong reactions -- isn't that a sign that the author got his job damn right?
However, personally I'm not so much into Schiller (although he's not bad either -- but for me it's just the other way round), so I suppose to some extent it's a matter of taste. And I agree with you that although Goethe was a great writer, there are other German writers with great and interesting ideas that are worth reading, too.

Regarding your question with 'self' and 'selves' -- I'm not an English native, but as far as I know is 'self' the singular while 'selves' is plural. So it is 'myself' but 'themselves'.

So, I hope although your post was mainly addressed as an answer to joan, you don't mind me answering at least a part of it!? In any case, I like your writing and would be happy to take part in your discussion, if you two don't mind.

Best,

marmotte

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marmotte


Member

Posted Mon Sep 17th, 2012 10:14pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

Hey Pelle,

good idea to start a new thread! And of course I'm fine with you copying my post.

Marmotte, self-declared specialist for southern German dialects and Austrian variety.


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Pelle_Hamburg


Member

Posted Mon Sep 17th, 2012 11:34pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

ok, FAUST: Goethe wrote the first version of "Faust" when he was 21. Like I said: show-off expecially with his later works. Given the fact that Goethe died at the age of 82 I think 21 is his "early creating period" and therefor I don't count "Faust, part I" as boring or show-off. Part 1 I don't...part 2 I do! But part 2 was published after his death in 1832; he worked on it to the very end and that would make it an example for my thesis: late stuff: boring and show-off!

The thing with part 1 is that he worked on that from the age of 21 to his late fifties, constantly changing things until it was exactly how he wanted it. The original version was found years after his death and had been published then. There are scenes missing that he later added to "Faust.Ein Fragment", first time it was published in the 1790s or so. But even that was not the last version: he added different scenes again and then in 1797 published "Faust.Eine Tragödie" - the version you probably now and love. I love it too! I think it's marvellous and genius! And if you read all three versions you can actually witness a transformation from "really good writer with original and stunning ideas" to "most genius German writer ever hard working on original and stunning ideas he had when he was younger" ...

and then came "Faust. Der Tragödie zweiter Teil" - (Faust, Part 2). When I was in school one had to pick two subjects as advanced/extension subjects. I joined German and Biology. Difference to other school subjects was that these advanced subjects were given 5 and not 2-3 hours a week and there were higher expectations of our intellectual performances and achievements. So while everybody in German basic-class only had to read "Faust.Part 1", we had to read the second part as well. On our holiday... I'm trying to say: maybe that fact helped the course of me not really liking the second part... To me, the second part of Faust: pure show-off and absolutely unconnected to the storyline he drew in the first part and although (again) beautifully written: not worth reading. In my opinion.

WERTHER: "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers"...he was 25 when he wrote that! So, yeah, beautiful, genius, made him famous almost instantly, many people committed suicide after having read it actually, giving a phenomenon a name: Werther-Effect (groundswell of suicides after a certain thing/action/happening being published/written about in the media/books). Goethe should be proud of himself - no, really, I like it very much and I think you are right with everything you say about it but again: early work! 25!

Same goes for the poems "Prometheus" (25) and "Erlkönig" (33), both of which I very, very much like.

When Helmut Kohl (chancellor a.D.) hold a speech in the Knesset he spoke of "the mercy of late birth". This is of course a saying that best pertains to Germans being born after 1945 - for many reasons. (He said that in 1984 so I'm taking it personally ) But originally it wasn't just meant for Germans after 1945, it meant everyone throughout human history. For me it means that judging older people or historical events or past in general by modern standards and by present knowledge should be done very carefully and that we, who were born later are experiencing the mercy of the late birth because we know more and so we know better. At least we could and should know better. For me the mercy here is having the opportunity to enlarge and increase my wisdom and knowledge by not being forced to do the same mistakes as older generations and/or profit from their conclusions that turned out to be right. The new generation can dare to reach higher because they can do that from their parents backs...
The really impressive thing about Goethe is that one can still learn from him. He has been dead for 180 years, he never saw a computer, a car, an aeroplane, a submarine or a woman working and living alone but still he was such a good observer of human nature that one can learn from his down-written wisdom even by present standards. There are things that don't change and human nature is one of it.

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates - just proving my point

So much from me concerning Goethe. Let ME show-off a little bit here: extension subject German really made an impact on me: I actually didn't have to look up ANYTHING, I just still knew it...frightening...

I leave you with this, hope I made myself clear about my opinion about Goethe and I'm looking forward to your comments.

I have a question concerning James Joyce (I know he's Irish but still, he wrote in English). I just tried to read "Ulysses" in English and I simply don't get it...I just don't understand it. Is it my bad English or is it Joyce? Is it worth reading it in English or should I buy a German translation? Help! *ahrg*

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joan


Member

Posted Tue Sep 18th, 2012 11:42am Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

Well, Pelle, if you have a problem with Ulysses, join the club! I tried it many years ago and gave up. Apparently it is 'stream of counsciousnes' and concerns travelling round Dublin as compared with the ancient travels of Ulysses, if I remember rightly.

In a previous thread we discussed language - you're not familiar with the Yorkshire dialect, ie my dialect. Well, it is a very Germanic dialect with some words which exist in modern German, others in Danish. Foisty = damp = feucht, for instance. And Mum would yell at me "Stop ligging in bed and get up" when I was a teenager. Lig = lie = liegen. The vowels are flat and there are glottal stops. Often t and a glottal stop is used intead of the. 'Butter' is pronounced exactly like in German. Yorkshire kids always found it easier to speak German than Southerners. We even had a form of 'du' used in exactly the same way, ie 'thou'. In dialect, people still use thee and thou, especially the men. But if anyone should 'thee and thou' (duzen) to someone older or more important, without being invited to - beware!! So Yorkshire language students find it easier to be polite and would rarely use 'du' wrongly.

Of course English was once German - the language brought over by the Friesians after the Romans left in the 5th century AD. All the function words are still Germanic, or Anglo Saxon as we call them, and when we really mean what we say, we use the old Germanic forms. The later additions of Norman French words are just for when we want to be important, posh, lightweight, or to sound academic. Churchill's 'we will fight them on the beaches' speech used entirely Anglo-Saxon words except for 'surrender', as in 'we will never surrender'. The speech was so important, it had to sound as real as possible. If we say 'I love you'(Germanic) it hugely important: if we say 'I adore you'(French)it is lightweight. By the thirteenth century, ie 200 years after the Norman conquest (An unjustified invasion I still resent, by the way) we had integrated Norman French into our language, and the language we use today was beginning.

I see today's language as just like the top layer of an archaological dig, the bit sticking out above ground. Underneath is a vast seam of history, with the clues in what you can see at the top. This is why I would not like the spelling to be simplified - we would lose the old word origins shown in the silent letters, such as the gh in night. Anyway, they can;t simplify it - too many accents and dialects to muddy the waters!!

Phew - I've rambled on enough - next time in German I think


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Pelle_Hamburg


Member

Posted Mon Sep 24th, 2012 7:18pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

For everyone to enjoy:
joan asked me if Germans still mishear lyrics on purpose. Yep, we do that. And Coldmirror is doing her very best to prove that to the world. Here are two links to show you what happens when a German hears a song with English lyrics and Serbian lyrics:

English:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjr0bIsxLtE
Serbian:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGseRWQqxT

It is of course way funnier when you actually speak German and if it is just a little bit

Ulysses: yeah...I gave up! I'll buy a German copy of it. But first I'll read "Riverworld" by Philip José Farmer. In English. That I can handle. Uh, and the latest Matt Ruff novel "The Mirage". I'm so exited! Thinking about it...I'll start right away...cu!

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marmotte


Member

Posted Mon Sep 24th, 2012 9:51pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

@Faust / Goethe:
When entering the discussion about Faust I was implicitly referring to the actual publication date of Goethes final version, the one he considered final (or at least the one he considered ready for publication). And a book published in his late 50s – I wouldn’t exactly regard that as ‚early work’, would you? So I suppose our opinions about the book are not that far away from each other, but our classification might have been.

However, I’m not that convinced about the distinction between ‚early’and ‚late’ works anyway. It might help a bit if you want to put an artist’s works into some kind of chronological order. But do these works necessarily share other attributes? And where do you draw the line between ‚early’ and ‚late’? You mentioned the „Erlkönig“ Goethe wrote at 33 and classified it as ‚early work’. So if you transfer that scheme to other artists -- does that mean that for example people like Mozart (died at 35 – okay, almost 36) or Schubert who died aged 31 only wrote ‚early works’? And if not – why not?

But hey, I doubt that Goethe has never seen a woman working and living on her own... ☺

@Ulysses
Sorry – I have not read the book in neither language yet. And irrespective of the language personally I don’t know anyone who managed to finish the book. So you might be the first one! ☺

@Yorkshire dialect
That’s fascinating! But why did the Yorkshire dialect preserve its Saxonian roots so well while other English dialects did less so?


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joan


Member

Posted Mon Sep 24th, 2012 10:30pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

I think we preserved our old words because we resisted the Normans the most. They had to lay waste to the North to conquer our part of Britain, but they never got our hearts and minds. Even to this day there are fewer royalist in Yorkshire than down South. And few Yorkies have ever forgiven the Norman Conquest. I'm indifferent to royalty myself, but I truly was disgusted when Charlie and Di called their first born William!!!


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Pelle_Hamburg


Member

Posted Mon Sep 24th, 2012 10:57pm Post subject: GermanEnglish-NiceTalk

...Ja, so sind sie die Deutschen

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