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The Awful German Language

The Awful German Language by Mark Twain
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This long essay is a work of mock philology, one of several appendices to Twain’s travel novel, A Tramp Abroad. In it, Twain explains, complains about, and shows how one might improve upon various aspects of the (awful) German language. His examples of precisely how the German language is awful include the famed “separable verb” – which allows one to put the first part of a given verb at the beginning – and its second part at the end – of a given clause or sentence (which may, indeed, be very long). He also makes fun of the extreme length of certain compound nouns (which are created by tacking two – or more – words together, without using hyphens to clarify where one ends and the next begins), as well as the many noun and verb forms one must master (memorize) in order to use German cases properly.
As the essay progresses, Twain includes a few hilarious passages that are partly or mostly in (his own, awful) German. Nevertheless, the work is easily understandable even by people who don’t know any German at all.
(In the novel, A Tramp Abroad, Twain details his journey with his friend, Harris, through Germany, the Alps, and Italy, where he encounters various ridiculous situations. Here, much of the humor lies in his silly, often over-stated characterization of the circumstances as quickly grasped and easily explained by such a seasoned tourist as himself, while he also make plain throughout the profoundly strange nature of many of his experiences, and the various pitfalls he and Harris run into as they try to navigate their unfamiliar terrain.) (Introduction by Kirsten Wever)

First Page:

A TRAMP ABROAD, Part 7.

By Mark Twain

(Samuel L. Clemens)

First published in 1880

Illustrations taken from an 1880 First Edition

ILLUSTRATIONS:

1.    PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR 2.    TITIAN'S MOSES 285.  STREET IN CHAMONIX 286.  THE PROUD GERMAN 287.  THE INDIGNANT TOURIST 288.  MUSIC OF SWITZERLAND 289.  ONLY A MISTAKE 290.  A BROAD VIEW 291.  PREPARING TO START 292.  ASCENT OF MONT BLANC 293.  "WE ALL RAISED A TREMENDOUS SHOUT" 294.  THE GRANDE MULETS 295.  CABIN ON THE GRANDE MULETS 296.  KEEPING WARM 297.  TAIL PIECE 298.  TAKE IT EASY 299.  THE MER DE GLACE (MONT BLANC) 300.  TAKING TOLL 301.  A DESCENDING TOURIST 302.  LEAVING BY DILIGENCE 303.  THE SATISFIED ENGLISHMAN 301.  HIGH PRESSURE 305.  NO APOLOGY 307.  A LIVELY STREET 308.  HAVING HER FULL RIGHTS 309.  HOW SHE FOOLED US 310.  "YOU'LL TAKE THAT OR NONE" 311... Continue reading book >>


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