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Re: way-OT: regularity of german v. english [was: Re: OT - Programming Languages w/o English Syntax]

On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 00:56:37 -0700
Erik Steffl <steffl@bigfoot.com> wrote:

> csj wrote:
> > On Sun, 19 Oct 2003 12:38:45 -0700,
> > Erik Steffl wrote:
> > 
> > [...]
> > 
> > 
> >>   think about it: when learning english the only challenge is
> >>to learn how to pronounce words (and learn irregular
> >>verbs). you built vocabulary by learning words, where you
> >>pretty much only need to remember the word itself (in its basic
> >>form). while when learning german... I don't even want to think
> >>about it.
> > 
> > 
> > Because everybody from the poor war orphan "Hey, Joe, eat!" to
> > the UN Secretary General speaks it, English has become a rather
> > tolerant language.  But if the same standard for proper German is
> > applied to what one considers proper English, then yes, German is
> > easier to learn.  It's a purer, therefore more consistent
> > language, than the French-infected English.
>    purity has nothing to do with it (not sure what you mean by pure). 
> not sure what your agenda is. english is a a lot simpler than german, 
> the usage of words is simple, the grammar is simple.

Sorry to drop in at this point, I didn't see the beginning of the

A simple gramar doesn't mean it's simple to learn. English grammar can
be simplified all the way down to say that there is no grammar, when
accepting tons of `exceptions'. Or, it can be considered extremely
complex, for instance if pronounciation rules should be applied
mechanically. English is easy to start to learn, but the further the
student progresses, the more difficult it gets. The positional grammar
actually allows to form some working english sentences very quickly,
which is not that possible in German, where you are confronted quite
soon with declinations and a twisted sentence structure. On a more
advanced level, it's hard to improve in English, because of so many
exceptions, phrases and overloaded meanings, while german becomes
predictable, being able to deduce the meaning of something new, or
even forming new words by composition which are understood by the
native speaker. What makes german really difficult specially for the
beginner are the teaching methods which are based on the same
principles as for teaching english: The student learns sentences as if
german also had a positional grammar, without any linguistic
understanding. This might appear to be more fun as it allows to say
something already after the first lesson, but it just delays the
solution of the initial problem. Even worse, german education has
dropped so much during the last 2 decades, that many natives have
severe difficulties in choosing the right tense or declination. On the
other hand, an interested student can master most of german grammar
within 6 to 12 months, from where on german actually becomes a
language which is really very easy do deal with.

Christoph Simon

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