August 15, 2005

Jah, aber neh, aber jah...

The Scotsman reassures a nation of German teachers that they are not the only ones to find Germany's spelling reforms and grammar increasingly difficult to master.

Where most languages stay put in the lifetime of a foreign languages teacher (Ancient Greek and Latin haven't changed in, ohhh, hundreds of years) German has proven more tricky to understand by the month, as spelling reforms brought in over 5 years ago have been rejected in two Länder and by several publishers. To make matters worse, your average German hasn't a clue anymore about whether they should be using the genitive or dative case:

"THE land of Goethe and Schiller has become the nation of "yeah but, no but" as purists complain that the Germans have forgotten how to speak their own language correctly...

"The end result is turning the language of Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann and the Brothers Grimm into a mishmash worthy of the Little Britain character Vicky Pollard. Comparable mistakes in English might include phrases such as: "I was late today because of he" instead of "because of him", or "I opened the door for he" instead of "for him"."


And in the classroom...
This makes for an interesting take on the ongoing argument on assessment: how does one mark what is correct and incorrect? Will there be a change back to the German we all grew to know and understand during our first degrees?

There is hope for us yet...

Picture: Vicky Pollard: a genitive too far?


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Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

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