Mark Twain and the awful German language

Find out more about the chasms of German! Mark Twain commented on the weird side of our beautiful language with a twinkle in his eye. Try out yourself how easy it is to detect the meaning of our extra long words.

Do you think that German - as a foreign language is easier to learn – than let’s say English? No?

Then, I guess German has a more than just a little image problem. But you know what?

Mark Twain, who spent three months in Heidelberg, suggested that we Germans should just cut off the

»haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein‘s«

at the end of our sentences and right away we would have a less awful German language. By the way, “The awful German language” was an appendix to his travel book “A Tramp Abroad”.

Mark Twain also comments on ueber long words like Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän. But you don’t have to give up! You can manage to find out what it means. Just do the same thing you might already know from German numbers. Skip what comes next and jump to the right:

54 = 4 und 50 = vierundfünfzig. Easy, isn’t it?

Let’s now go back to our monstrous and horrifying Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän.

Jump to the right and you easily find out what it is: Kapitän. A captain!

What else do you know: Donau? Yes! Danube.

And then: Dampf, Schiff, Fahrt, Gesellschaft. Ok, the last one is hard. Gesellschaft means society.

All together you finally have:

Danube steam ship trip society captain. What a hell of a profession!

So, never give up! Even though you might think it doesn’t make sense at all. But who knows…sometimes it might really make no sense at all and German might not be as logic as you think…isn’t that terrifying? I hope this doesn’t throw you into the abyss of despair ;-)!

Keep it up!


Mark Twain