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Interresting DOS forum in german (Announce)

posted by marcov(R), 12.09.2018, 12:17

> > > The German language is supposedly harder (for a native [American]
> > > English speaker like me) to learn than others
> >
> > True, but that is mostly based on speaking/writing, not understanding.
> To be honest, 600 hours isn't much less than 750 (apparently 20%).

I meant that the universal perception of "difficult" is more the active part. But since you had Latin, cases and declensions are not new to you, and they are (together with gender) the hardest part.

Word order and concatenating words is also considered a problem, but that is shared with Dutch, so not something that makes German harder than Dutch.

> But the U.S. is overwhelmingly monolingual (although I heard once
> that only 24% of the world is similarly limited).

Rule of thumb, the bigger the country the lesser the language skills. And China and India, while not entirely mono-lingual are mainly so, and that is 2.5/7 of the population.

Note that American as an ex colony is a grade worse, since it doesn't have dialects of the same magnitude like e.g. UK English has. Dialects also help with language skills.

> I mean, I get it,
> there's less urgency or need over here, but it's still a bit
> short-sighted. So I'm sympathetic but mostly for philosophical reasons.

The needs are also different. Spanish is much more important in the Americas than in Europe (where it is still a big economy with the second largest tourist sector (after France)).

> > Frisian is closest. Dutch and German should be closer than Swedish,
> since
> > both West Germanic languages, while Swedish is North-Germanic.
> Frisian is very obscure to me. But so is Yiddish.

Frisian is Ingvaeonic, like English. Some however also include old Saxon in this subgroup (

Dutch and, roughly, the German Rhineland are Istvaenonic, rest of Germany is Irmvionic. The standard-Germanification of the Rhineland however reduced this a bit.

Keep in mind btw that the Saxons are from roughly Northern Germany. There is a direct link between Northern Germany dialects (Saxon platt) and English too.

> I heard Dutch is closer and thus easier, certainly easier than German.

If it is closer, I'd say it is not that much. English barely distinguished Dutch and German before the 1500s. (hence "Dutch" which is based on the same root as the German autonym "Deutsch"). Only the founding of the Dutch Republic
and language centralization due to bible translations made the difference pronounced.

I'd say the difference is not distance but practical details, like Dutch shedding many of its declensions, case and most of the word gender in the early 20th century (after they were already disused for a while) and the German sound shifts that make the words somewhat unfamiliar, both in writing and pronunciation, even if they have the same root. Those are somewhat predictable though, so that is more an initial problem.

Dutch and German are closer to each other, indeed due to the Latin/French vocabulary in English. Which can be confusing for English people learning Dutch, since many French derived words in Dutch remain pretty French in pronunciation too. At least much more than in English.

> One teenager on one of the FreeDOS mailing lists (Maarten) said they
> learn English, German, and Dutch in school. (Not sure if that's a fairly
> recent development or not. The Van Halen brothers immigrated as pre-teens
> and didn't speak English at all, AFAIK.)

In the NL that is standard. English starting from primary school even. German usually from the second class secondary school.
The upper 60% of the students also gets French starting with the first year of primary school. But the minimum (depending on group 2 or 4 years) is not enough to really be fluent.

In Belgium they start much younger with French, with way, way better results. Most university students (iow that had the highest and usually longest form of secondary education) seem fluent to at least being able to manage every day events.

The share of the Dutch population that can speak some English is pretty high. German is less and still declining. I blame cable television (before the cable era, people in border areas watched German television, just to get more choice, myself included)

Afaik van Halen were of Indo heritage (former Dutch colonial citizens in Indonesia)? Maybe they speak some Malay. Or maybe that is a generation to late already.

(Linus T and Scandinavian English level)

Smaller countries, better skills. And while further away (core simple words are a little more different), the distance of English to North Germanic is still much, much closer that other languages. (

> (Yes, I know he's from Finland, but he's still Swedish, apparently
> the minority. Finnish is not Germanic, supposedly related to Estonian
> and Hungarian.)

Yup. Quite different.

> Old English is 100% indecipherable to modern English. I challenge anyone
> to pretend otherwise. At least Shakespeare is mostly comprehensible.

Really old texts (like 1000 A.D.) often are. 1500-1600 era usually is better, specially if you are educated a bit about the differences.

> BTW, British slang is extremely bizarre, and I'll never get used to it.

Slang and dialects are hard because there often is no formal education for them. The only way to learn is exposure.

> Wasn't the grandfather of the Swedish king a
> Brit?
> Hey, even Charles and Camilla are like ninth cousins once removed!)

Yeah, our king decidedly went in a different direction (Argentinian :-)

All former Dutch monarchal spouses were German afaik (Claus,Bernard,Hendrik,Emma,Sophia). We need to go back to 1840 for Anna Pavlovna of Russia to break that trend.

> I don't really care about politics or history or genealogy at all, but
> I do like trivia and trying to connect the dots. (Princess Diana's
> grandfather was an American, so was Churchill's mother, among others.)

Same, though with a bit more continental focus, for obvious reasons. But the area of interest is more the local tribal past (and languages relate somewhat to that).

> BTW, I've heard that Germans can't understand Swiss German without
> subtitles! But luckily the Swiss focus more on "standard" German
> most of the time.

Schwizerdütsch is something else indeed. Though the trouble already starts in Bavaria, and even Nuernberg dialects are complex.

I can understand dialects from both Ruhr and Rur areas (which are somewhat related to my own Limburgish dialect), and can understand Cologne dialects (which are a different branch) after some time to get used to it.

> I dare you to pretend to read Old English (Beowulf) natively.

I know. I had to in English class. With the translation, you recognize some worths, but that's it. Pronunciation is alien.

Old Frankish is even worse, since even earlier, you often don't even recognize anything as familar:

"Maltho thi afrio lito"
(I say, I free you, half-free.)

With the translation, thi might guessed as "you/du/jij/thou", and that is about it. Some common simple French words come from it ( )

> I took Latin in school, which is of course both dead and complicated
> grammatically.

I tried Latin and old Greek for about two months, then decided that was enough, and I was more technically inclined :_)

> was a Polish Jew of Lithuanian descent who spoke Russian (and Yiddish??)
> natively.

Dutch(native),German(4y),English(6y). A bit of French(4y), usually enough to manage receptions of hotels, restaurants etc, if they are willing to listen.

I wouldn't classify my German as entirely fluent, but I have done German tradeshows and spoke German on the floor. I'll probably would need to spend some months in Germany to really get a level further.

(French guy learning Dutch)
> I wonder if he already knew English (or maybe Latin). Modern English
> is roughly 60% Latin-based.

There are pockets of Dutch dialects in Northern France, but they haved waned in the 20th century. Lille even has a native Dutch name, Rijssel.

I learned English and French at the same time, and while there is some shared vocabulary, it is not the same. English is still much and much faster, and you use your Germanic language skills much more.

I sometimes wish I could revisit that first year of English lessons, since I have much, much more context to connect it with.

> It's still a burden trying to memorize vocabulary, so I suspect that
> most just "make up" a word (esperantize?) when they don't have a
> dictionary readily available. So even there it's messy, but it's
> not really a well-taught language, most are users self-taught.
> Also, being auxiliary (second language only, by design) makes things
> less urgent.

(I'm really glad there are no recordings of the above tradeshows in Germany for exactly those reasons).

> P.S. I've been listening to a lot of Sleeze Beez on internet radio

No, but it seems there heyday were the eighties. Slightly too old for me, I was a young teenager then, and didn't really go to popconcerts yet, and they seem to have only one song that touched the Dutch TOP 40 rankings.


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