In addition, many German words have been used so much by English speakers that they have been swallowed whole, so to speak, into the English language to become a part of our vocabulary.
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Many other German words are so similar to English words that you can master their meanings and pronunciations with little effort. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to put together simple but meaningful sentences in German. She has been living and teaching in Berlin for as long as you can remember, and so you are surprised when you find the invitation in your mailbox.
You have a thousand questions you want to ask her. What has it been like living in Berlin? Has she learned to speak German yet? Cognates Words in German that are similar to near cognates or exactly like perfect cognates their English counterparts—similar in form and in meaning.
When the day of the show arrives, you go to the address on the invitation. Shortly after you push the door open and step into a noisy, crowded room, you conclude that something must be wrong. Everyone around you is speaking in tongues. Just as you are about to turn and leave, your friend pushes through the crowd and grabs you by the arm.
You are in the right place. Almost all of her admirers are Berliners, she explains, and what you are hearing is German.
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You stay close to your friend all night. You listen to the conversations she carries on with other people— auf Deutsch ouf doytsh. You are able to pick up on certain words: interessantes Object, gute Freundin, phantastische Party, modern, blau, braun.
Clearly, a new language—a hybrid, perhaps, of German and English—is being spoken, possibly even invented by this sophisticated crowd. How else would you be able to make sense of so many words?
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Both languages like to borrow words from the same places—namely, Greek, Latin, and other Romance languages. But back to words that have the same meaning and similar form—the really great part about cognates is that they have the same meanings in German and in English.
Pronunciation does vary, of course, but most of the time, these words are familiar to us. Perfect Cognates: Identical Twins The following table lists by article perfect cognates—words that are exactly the same in English and German. As a Rule In English, we have only one definite article, indicating specificity—a certain something is familiar and recognized in the referred to situation: the. Grammatical gender is arbitrary—unpredictable, in fact! Remember: In German all nouns are capitalized. How do we recommend that you practice pronouncing these new words?
Note: Ist expresses is in German.
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Close, but No Cigar The following table lists near cognates, words that are spelled almost—but not quite— the same in English and German. Although their spellings differ, their meanings are the same. Now would be a good time to recall the consonant shift that led to the separation and distinction of English from German. Consider, for example, the correspondence between the German t and English d.
Practice pronouncing the German words correctly. What Do You Think? Only one other person is sharing your compartment, a very attractive traveler, you are pleased to see—who alternates between reading a book and staring dreamily out of the window. You were tired when you boarded the train, but now sleeping is the farthest thing from your mind.
Use the adjective and noun cognates and near cognates you have learned to engage your neighbor in conversation. The weather is good. Is the book interesting? The author is popular. The perfume is attractive. The wind is warm. The character is primitive. The heart is wild. The infinitive form of a verb does not refer to a grammatical ghost that floats around in German sentences for all eternity. The following table is a list of verbs that are near cognates in their infinitive form.
You can probably already read and understand the following fun and fanciful German sentences: 1. Der Onkel trinkt Wein. Der Tiger und der Elefant schwimmen in dem Ozean. Der Film beginnt in einem Supermarkt. Rey-lee-geeohn o-duhr kah-os? Ayn moh-deR-nuhs pRo-bleym, zAkt deyR yoon-guh, in-tey-lee-gentuh ou-toh. Infinitive form The unconjugated form of a verb. In German the infinitive form of verbs end in -en or, in some cases, simply -n.
Verbs are listed in the dictionary in the infinitive form. We utilize this infinitive form when using helping verbs such as had. Das Baby liegt in den Armen der Mutter. Mein Bruder hat eine Guitarre. No shortcut is without its pitfalls. In language as in life, false friends are misleading.
What are false friends in language? They are words spelled the same or almost the same in German and in English that have different meanings. As you can see, these two words, which are spelled exactly the same, have totally different meanings. A word of caution: Cognates can be of help to you in learning German, but false friends can trip you up.
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The following table lists some common false friends. Ready, Set, Go! What are idioms? He arranges for you to have breakfast at the hotel with his mother the following morning. The following morning at breakfast your motherin-law asks you how you managed to get through the night without her son. Without realizing it, you have used the German idiom for having a one-night stand. Idiomatic expressions are speech forms or expressions that cannot be understood by literal translation—they must be learned and memorized along with their meanings.
Most differ greatly from their English counterparts in meaning as well as in construction, but perhaps an even greater number differ only slightly. Idioms make a language colorful. Idiomatic expressions tend to be culturally specific because the lexical items a certain language relies on to express nonliteral meanings generally have significance in that culture.
Well, mustard does play a rather prominent culinary role in German, so take a guess. After all, would you rather have some mustard to go along with your Wurst, or two pennies? To help you get a clearer idea of what idiomatic expressions are, here are a few in English: sell down the river. The following table lists some German idiomatic expressions that correspond, more or less, with their English equivalents.