Montag, 17. November 2008

my name is geraldine and i'm your social worker

i mentioned earlier about my moments with german. and after a particularly frustrating day at school (one of those days when I just don't understand-- which is never really pleasing), I'm in the mood to ramble. About German. And learning it.

Okay, so the premise is simple. You learn nouns. you squish them together and modify them with adjectives. then you put them into sentences with verbs, modify those with adverbs, throw in some commas and you have a language.

So German is a pretty spectacular example of why I am never going to be an English major. (reason being: grammar). etc. It's not russian and it isn't chinese, so it's not a proper 'hard' language to learn for english speakers, but it's quirks are kind of pleasing.

So, German nouns inflect into cases, genders and numbers. The genders and numbers are no new concept-- I tackled that in French. But the cases are... interesting. Now that I'm starting to understand them, they're kind of cool.

So, there are three genders in German. Der is masculine, das is neuter and die is feminine and plural. There are some pretty handy clues for what gender a noun is. -ung, -schaft, -keit, -heit tend to be feminine. -Chen and -lein are neuter key words and so on and so forth. Die plural is sort of the forth gender, which makes it handy. It's also sort of confusing because there is no one way to pluralize nouns and to me it all seems a bit hap-hazard. Sometimes they stay the same. Sometimes they get an umlaut. Sometimes there's an s. etc.

Okay, so on top of the gender of the nouns we have cases. In English, we have direct objects and indirect objects as well as the messy presence of apostrophes. In German, there are four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive and dative.

The nominative case is the general, natural case. Not terribly fascinating. Next! for example, The cheese.

der Käse.

The accusative case is used largely as a way to indicate the direct object of a transitive verb. The masculine gender goes from being "r" to being n. So, der becomes den. ein becomes einen. kein becomes keinen. That is to say, Can I have the cheese? We don't have any cheese.

kann ich habe den Käse? Wir haben keinen Käse.

The dative case is mostly used to indicate the indirect object of a transative verb. In this case, the male/neuter (der, das) becomes dem. female (die) becomes der. Plural becomes den. Ein becomes einem, eine becomes einer. For example. You can't have any cheese because I got the cheese for the dog.

Du kannst keinen Käse haben, weil ich den Käse dem Hund hole.

(nice use of because in there... look at the word order. You can not cheese have, because i the cheese for the dog got.)

The genitive case is used mostly to show possession and the relationships between nouns. Der becomes des, ein becomes eines. Das become des, die becomes der and eine becomes einer. For example, that cheese is not the cat's! The cheese is the dog's!

Der Käse ist nicht der Katze! Der Käse ist des Hund!

Up next time:
Word Order

all the love

ps-- i make no promise of this actually being right. this is just simply my understanding, which is sketchy at best. plus, i am listening to Glasvegas, which is sort of distracting.

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