Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Adult education

It's true what they say about age and language study. As I approach my quarter-century (a girl from my high school class was in last week's Vows; I'm officially alte), I realize that I cannot keep the noun, determiner, and adjective case endings in my head all at the same time. Memorizing charts of endings in isolation works well enough, but combining the material, without the charts (which I've ostensibly memorized) in front of me? Not so much. My ancestors spoke a variant of this language, but I did not inherit this particular acquired characteristic. One word after the next looks familiar, but the grammar... I'm starting to understand where my own students are coming from when they think that I invented French grammar especially to confuse them. But French is so much easier! This is objective fact, and has nothing to do with my years spent dealing with one language versus a couple weeks spent with the other. But seriously. How can a language make the definite article so involved? Do German people have to do a gigantic math problem (or twelve) every time they read a sentence? Or does this feeling when confronted with German sentences (who am I kidding, German word phrases) go away after a while?

1 comment:

Withywindle said...

My grandfather referred to three-volume German dictionaries, where the verbs were in the third volume.