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Umlauts

Someone asked me if there was something about the German language that I found amusing. Well, umlauts are fun. Those two simple dots change a vowel’s pronunciation just by hovering over it. They cause more than a headache to Spanish speakers and take hours of practice to master for anyone who attempts to learn German.  Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, Umlauts, German language, fun, lustige SpracheIf you can’t get the hang of umlauts, here’s the ultimate tip to be able to pronounce them in no time. This strategy helped me as a native Spanish speaker. I’m sure it’d work for Italian and Portuguese people as well. Here we go!

  • Ü (the head-over-heels happy u): put your mouth in “u” position (as if you were going to say /u/) but say /i/ instead.
  • Ö (the flabbergasted o): put your mouth in “o” position but say /e/.
  • Ä (the scared a): put your mouth in “a” position but say /e/.

Easy peasy.

Come to think about it… there’s something inherently disturbing about this drawing. Her face is just… unsettling. What have I done?! I’ve created a monster!

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Abecedarium

Ruminating, I stumbled upon the fact that using the word “alphabet” to refer to the sequence “a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z” is lexically inaccurate. Etymologically, “alphabet” goes back to the Ancient Greek “alphábetos”, with “álpha” and “beta” being the first two letters of the Greek alphabet.
Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, abecedary, alphabet, abecedarium, Greek
Since English uses Latin letters, the right term to refer to “a b c d” – and so on – should be abecedary, or abecedarium if you’d like to be morphologically pedantic.

These are the things that keep me awake at night.

Alternative German Linguistic History

Every language learner who has delved into the morphological depths of German struggles with a linguistic jungle of random articles ready to put you to shame whenever you have to choose among a handful of declensions in a conversation. But there’s one thing German is great for: inventing words! Can you add any to the list? :D

Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, comics, word composition, German

Raw Animal Phraseology

If something isn’t good to begin with, there’s not much one can do to improve it.

Literal translations – Dutch: A monkey may wear a gold ring, but it stays an ugly thing. | Spanish: The money may dress in silk, but it stays a monkey. | German: One can’t cut a diamond out of a pebble. | Irish: Dress a goat in silk, but it still remains a goat. | Romanian: One can’t make a whip out of shit. | Russian: One can’t make candy out of shit. | Finnish: Many cakes may look beautiful on the outside, but be shitty in the inside. | French: One cannot make a race-horse from a donkey. | Turkish: You may put a golden packsaddle on a donkey, but the donkey is always a donkey.
 

Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, animal phraseology, idioms