Archive for the ‘German’ Category

Lost In Translation

Posted on January 10th, 2013by jake
In German, Swedish | Leave a Comment »

Although learning another language can be an arduous task requiring hours and hours of strenuous study, there is humour to be found whilst undertaking your studies. The Telegraph has compiled a top 10 list of foreign language faux pas. English is particularly prone to these faux pas as it is composed of many different languages. Many words that English acquired were applied to different words in English than that of its native origin. Add to that the evolution of languages as well as a few coincidences and you get some humourous examples of being lost in translation. Below are some of my favourite examples from The Telegraph’s list.

Swedish – kissa means to urinate, and lustig means humorous, not lusty. Just don’t be surprised if the conversation ends with the word slut – it means “end” in Swedish.

Turkish – Though Turkish people are famously friendly, be careful with a casual hiya, as it sounds the same as the Turkish word for testicles. For a night out, remember that you can’t gamble in a gazino; the word means café in Turkish. You may wind up at a nightspot that features a şarkı, which is a singer, not a shark.

German – If you’re celebrating a birthday there, don’t accept a gift. As a noun, it means poison, not a present. If asked what you’ve bekommen, folks want to know what you received, not what you’ve become. And don’t worry if your friends want to meet you by the Rathaus. In German, Rat means council, and often serves as a prefix for words describing municipal jobs or places.


Decrease in A-Level language take-up

Posted on August 19th, 2012by Michelle
In Arabic, Education, French, German, Japanese, Polish | Leave a Comment »

This week was A-Level results week, where thousands of young people found out what their immediate future holds.

It appears that fewer young people are choosing languages to be part of their future, with reports saying that the number of British teenagers choosing a European language A-Level has fallen.

The number of students taking German has fallen below 5,000, with entries in French down to around 12,500. Interesting, languages such as Polish, Arabic and Japanese have seen a slight rise in the number of candidates. It seems that languages traditionally studied in British schools are proving less popular with young people.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA exam board, said the drop in the number of people taking A-levels in traditional modern foreign languages was a real worry. “We have the euro economy in crisis – I think modern foreign languages are in the same place,” he said.

There was no magic bullet to fix the problem, Hall said, but he welcomed the government’s move this year to introduce modern languages in primary schools.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR exam board, said universities had made it clear they wanted students with qualifications in science and maths. “I’m not sure the message has been as strong around languages, so they could assist in this approach,” he said. (Source: The Guardian)

Does German handwriting need simplifying?

Posted on June 30th, 2011by Michelle
In German, Words, Writing | 1 Comment »

German schoolteachers have started a campaign to abolish the teaching of joined-up handwriting, according to a report in the Guardian.

“Die Schreibschrift” is the German name for the handwriting style pupils have to learn before they leave primary school, at around 10 years old. It is based on Latin script, and the current form used is called “Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift” (easier model script). The teachers’ union argues that it is an outdated way of writing and a waste of time for pupils, who first have to learn printed letters, then how to join them up.

There is opposition to the idea, however, with the regional head of the Society for German Language in Hamburg, Dr Hans Kaufman, arguing:

“Writing is a cultural technique used to quickly put down thoughts. Joined-up handwriting trains fine motor skills, develops [a sense for] aesthetics. An apparently easier script also simplifies thoughts. I would mourn the loss of a piece of our writing culture.”

Apart from the argument about loss of culture, others argue that letting children print script will slow down writing speed (think about the time it takes to write individual letters rather than a joined-up word) and decrease legibility.

What do you think? Would you prefer not to have learned joined-up handwriting in school?

A new language for holiday

Posted on May 27th, 2011by Michelle
In German, Language acquisition, Vietnamese | Leave a Comment »

As you read this blog post, I will hopefully be enjoying the sun in beautiful Croatia. I’ve never been to the country before and have not encountered the language either.

This had me wondering – how much of a language should you try and learn before a holiday?

In the past I’ve learned bits of Vietnamese, German, Greek and Malay whilst on holiday. Whilst on the plane to Vietnam, I listed to a beginners guide to the language in the form of a podcast. When trying to speak and listen to the language, however, I found I had forgotten most of what I had heard.

With other languages I have picked up phrases whilst in country. These were enough to get by, along with liberal doses of sign language. As a native English speaker, I try and avoid the assumption that others will speak my language, but find that a lot of the time, they do!
Before going to Croatia I will pick up a phrasebook and try and learn some basic phrases and greetings. These websites seem to be a good start for travellers to the country. Obviously it’s not possible for me to become fluent in Croatian in a couple of weeks, but I will make some effort.

How much of the language do you learn before going on holiday?

Language teaching in Czech schools

Posted on March 27th, 2011by Michelle
In Education, English, German, Russian | Leave a Comment »

In a country where studying a language at GCSE level is currently non-compulsory, it’s interesting to see that business managers in the Czech Republic believe students should study more than one language.

The survey by Czech Position found that the majority of business managers think that more than one language should be compulsory in schools, with Russian, German, Hindi and Mandarin the preferred options. The survey was in response to the proposal by the National Economic Council (NERV) that students should only study English as a second language as they could “get by in life” if they were fluent in English. It also said that students should study subjects such as law, finance and IT instead of a second compulsory language.

Managers disagree, with many pointing to their business links with Russia and Germany as evidence for the need for students to study a second compulsory language. According to one, “some 85 percent of the Czech Republic’s business cooperation takes place with European Union member states, and more than half with German-speaking countries, above all Germany. Forgetting this fact would be a fatal error”.

Not all of the managers were in agreement however, with some pointing to the quality of language teaching in schools as an area that needs to be addressed before more languages are compulsory. Another said that schools and students should be allowed to focus on a discipline they are good at – “teaching several compulsory languages would reduce the capacity of the school and the students for specific subjects. Then it could easily happen that a student — a talented technician, for instance — would not pass his school leaving exam in a foreign language and, as a result, could not find an appropriate job because of something that is not directly connected with his professional qualities”.

What do you think?

Google Goggles helps you translate

Posted on May 20th, 2010by Michelle
In English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Technology, Translation | Leave a Comment »

goggles_translationA cool new application from Google will soon be able to help you translate from written words.

Google Goggles users can point their phone at a word or phrase they wish to have translated, and then fine-tune their onscreen selection to a smaller area. Using the phone’s camera, the application will recognise the language and give you an option to translate it. This makes the application perfect for globetrotters – whether you need a menu or sign translated, you can do so without the hassle of searching through a guide book or dictionary.

The application can only translate languages based on the Latin alphabet such as English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at the moment, but once the text is captured it can be quickly translated to other languages. Google are apparently confident that other languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Hindi will soon be added to the app.

Whilst the app is free, you’ll need a mobile device running Android 1.6 or higher. I’ll definitely be giving this a try on my trip to Italy next month!

Croatian teen changes languages

Posted on April 14th, 2010by Michelle
In Events, German | Leave a Comment »

A Croatian girl has woken up from a coma speaking fluent German.

Having only recently started learning the language, the 13 year old was not fluent before the coma, according to her parents. She is now also unable to speak Croatian.

Psychiatric expert Dr Mijo Milas added: “In earlier times this would have been referred to as a miracle, we prefer to think that there must be a logical explanation – its just that we haven’t found it yet.

“There are references to cases where people who have been seriously ill and perhaps in a coma have woken up being able to speak other languages – sometimes even the Biblical languages such as that spoken in old Babylon or Egypt – at the moment though any speculation would remain just that – speculation – so it’s better to continue tests until we actually know something.” (Source: Telegraph)

If the story had appeared a couple of weeks ago, I would have assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. I can’t find any follow up stories on this though – I wonder if the girl has regained her native Croatian?

Top 10 internet languages

Posted on March 28th, 2010by Michelle
In Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Research, Russian, Spanish, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Graph of Top 10 languagesThe internet is a great resource for language learning, but only if you can find the information you need.

Good news for English speakers and language learners as English is the language most used by internet users. According to research by Internet World Stats, English is the language used by almost 30% of users. This is quite closely followed by Chinese and then Spanish. Japanese, French, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Russian and Korean round out the top 10.

Keeping this in mind, try out this game to see if you can guess the world’s top 20 most spoken languages. I think the number one will surprise you!

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Posted on March 3rd, 2010by Michelle
In German, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Guido WesterwelleUm, no. I don’t. I learned a little in school, and was apparently quite good at it, but all of that knowledge has disappeared now. My apologies to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is on a mission to promote his native language.

Westerwelle is promoting his global campaign called “Language of Ideas” which aims to encourage more people to speak German. And why is he promoting German over other languages?

“It is the key to more than 350 German universities and colleges, to Europe’s largest economy,” Westerwelle said. “It grants access to German literature, music, philosophy, and science, to the wealth of great European cultural traditions and, not least, it is the key to realizing one’s own goals and ideas.” (Source: Washington Post)

There are around 101 million native German speakers in Europe with more learning the language. Here in the UK, it’s generally thought that German is an ugly or harsh-sounding language, but Westerwelle calls it “beautiful”. From my experience, I can say that the sounds become more pleasing the more you hear it spoken!

Are you learning German? Do you think it’s “beautiful”?

Happy Christmas!

Posted on December 24th, 2009by Michelle
In Arabic, English, French, German, Hints and Tips, Italian, Japanese, Language acquisition, Mandarin, Portugese, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Santa and childYesterday I posted about Christmas songs in different languages, and now it’s time to wish you a very happy Christmas, again in a few different languages! So….

Miilaad Majiid (Arabic), Joyeux Noël (French), Frohe Weinachten (German), Buon Natale (Italian), Meri Kurisumasu (Japanese), Shèng dàn kuài lè (Mandarin), Feliz Natal (Portugese), Feliz Navidad (Spanish), and finally Merry Christmas (UK)!

Try this Omniglot page for more translations in more languages, including some audio recordings.

From all of us at Language Museum, we wish you a safe and happy Christmas. See you in the New Year!