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2 August 2006

Let's express regret first. It's a generational thing. I'm old enough that when I was a kid my reading was full of Nazis saying things like Achtung! and Donner und Blitzen! So early on I did learn a few phrases of German, phrases which I'd rather forget. Unfortunately, when in the first or second year at school we were given a taster of German, I was left with a small selection of phrases which weren't much more useful - Es lautet and Ich bin zur Messe hier. That was the consequence of using an audiovisual textbook about which I can only remember its comic strip approach. But why blame that? Let's be honest, at that time - I was 13 or 14 - I didn't think I was any good at languages so I didn't achieve much.

It's odd about German, and it being so far behind French in its takeup by schools. Often even taking third place behind Spanish. Odd, because it's much more closely related to English. But Germany is further away; there is that old traditional snobbery about French being better; and these days, Spanish being more useful for holiday-loving Brits. And though French has its own difficulties, German seems to have some scary obstacles in the form of lots of genders and long complicated words. Me, I'm open to learning more. There's lots to explore in German, in literature, journalism, and film... you name it. And there are several nations in Europe producing German. If I'd been writing this 'log' last year, I'd have written an entry about The Edukators, an entertaining and brain-satisfying German film. Of course, it was a film I had to follow the subtitles for.

School wasn't the only time I've done a bit of active study. A few years ago I visited an old friend who'd settled in Munich. A German teacher friend lent me some very usable booklets they'd produced at school, and it did help. Although in general Germans speak excellent English, it varies from region to region and in the South in Bavaria you can't expect to be talking to fluent English speakers all the time. I won't claim to have managed more than a very few transactions while I was wandering about the city - the most complicated was the purchase of a roving ticket for the underground system.

So, I've set up the page. I'm less likely to study German further than some of the others in the list, but it could easily happen. I can think of one or two areas of interest in which German would be very useful. Travel, too. We'll see!


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