Illustration of a brain

An Interview with the German Language

Oh, German Language, why do you have to be so maddeningly, endearingly difficult? That’s one question you’ve probably asked yourself over and over again. Bestselling author, Adam Fletcher, had a few questions of his own, and managed to score an interview with the lofty German Language to get some answers.

"Hi German Language! It’s me, Adam."

"Hallo Herr Fletcher."

Just Adam, thanks. Herr Fletcher was my father."

"Okay, Herr Adam."

Just Ad — never mind. So, I’ve been studying you for years now, almost completely without success. I’ve got a few questions, I guess. That okay?"

"It’s been a while since I had guests. That said, I’m extremely busy being a world famous language, tongue of both Schiller and Goethe…"

No doubt. I’ll be quick. Let’s start with the grammar - three articles, der, die and das, right?"

"Richtig, Ausländer."

"How about plurals though?"

"That’s easily handled. They have their own case: die."

Sometimes I wish you would…"


"Nothing. But die is also for feminine nouns, right?"

"Ja, it is for both."

"But then, how am I supposed to know if the noun is feminine or plural?"

"Worry not, die Great German Language has thought of this. Has thought of everything. We also change die noun endings. So die Banane becomes die Bananen, etc."

"I’ve noticed you don’t use the when you speak English?"

"Very observant, Ausländer. I know of your “the”, of course. I laugh at your “the”. It is crude and simple. It is safety belt. It is shortcut. It is “may contain traces of nuts when there is no nuts. It is nuts, your “the”. If die world is complex, why should das tool we use to describe it be simple?"

"Okay, I guess. So then I just add an n to the end of nouns to get the plural?"

"Ja… Nein... Jein. Sometimes you must also add an -en, or a -d, or even a -t, and let us not forget die -ent. Sometimes, to make it really exciting, we change der                der noun. It’s a lot of fun, yes?"

Fun? Memorising thousands of arbitrarily assigned genders and plural endings?"

"Why would you say they are arbitrarily assigned? This is offensive to die Great German Language and its rich intellectual history."

"Well, it just seems that way to me."

"Die genders reflect die thoughts and intelligent categorisations of earlier generations of die Germans."

Did they leave written records of that logic and intelligent categorisation?"

"Nein. There are some patterns you can follow but they’re not infallible. And we’re only talking here of the nominative case, you also need to learn how to decline genitive, dative and akkusativ cases, which use a mixture of dem, den, des, die and der. You can decline to use die grammar, I guess, if you want to be der wrong kind of foreigner. Ha! I made a word play joke. Your language likes its simple word play jokes I’ve heard?"

Hilarious. Why don’t you have separate, distinct cases for those, so there’s no confusion?"

"There is no confusion."

"But I’m confused?"

"Because your native language is English. English is a squeaky toy language. Paddling pool language. Mickey Mouse tongue. When I’m relaxing at die bar with AncientGreek and Latin, we’re always making fun of your English. No-one invites your English. This frat boy. Remember, almost all die smartest things ever written were written in die Great German Language."

"It’s a shame almost no-one can understand them then. And English is the most widely spoken language in the world, I’ll have you know."

"Ha, good joke, Ausländer."

"No, it is, really."

"Was? Nein. It’s Latin, I thought?"

"Erm, it’s 2020. Latin has gone the way of the dinosaurs. English has taken over the world."

"Really? But Latin is such a beautiful language, so richly, lavishly, deliciously complex. If English has taken over die world, that is a world for which I would worry. It       would be unphonetic bouncy castle moron world."

"Maybe there’s, like, a lesson here though? For you, I mean? Have you wondered about taking a good hard look at yourself and maybe changing things up a bit? Going on a grammar diet? Becoming less tense(s)? Adopting the plural “s”? Self-improvement is all the rage these days.

"You do not seem to respect that I am one of die classics. You don’t mess with die classics. You don’t update die classics. Die classics remain die classics!"

"Okay, just don’t say I didn’t try. Last question - what’s the deal with you and Duden?"

"There is no deal. I am independent. I answer to no-one. Duden is just a company. A mere dictionary maker."

"Interesting, because it looks like every German gives Duden the last word on you. Makes them your ruler. That while English is a bit of a mess, at least it’s a living,            free, independent, (jazzy) mess."

"How dare you. I am free. I am old, but I am living. Regal, like a peacock strutting proudly through die ages: I am die Great German Language, tongue of Schiller and Goethe! Language of Dichter and Denker."

Once maybe, now you’re mostly just the language of DIN and Döner. Actually, you know what, I think I’m just going to give up and go learn Spanish."

"Nein! That doesn’t stimmt. Die Great German Language will live on forever. It is immortal like the Vampire. No! I said your dirty word. Like der Vampir. You must change, not it. Understand, Ausländer?"


"Hallo? Ausländer? I am alone again. Hallo? Come back! Want me to read you some Goethe?"


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