Grammar and Culture – English Translation

For all the people who don’t know German, here’s a translation of what I just wrote. (Here you go, Mom.)

In my class we talk about almost everything! Every day we do grammar, writing, and speaking exercises. We even write hypothetical letters to our teacher and often read German newspapers and magazines. We often have to orally summarize the articles (which is harder than it sounds!). I wanted to study German in Germany so I could improve my pronunciation in the best possible environment. My  pronunciation sounds like an American girl trying to speak German. However, I want it to sound more like real German.

Sometimes the grammar exercises are a bit difficult for me because I haven’t really had much official grammatical training. But I have read and spoken a lot of German. I tend to follow the rules whenever I’m speaking or writing, but I don’t know the reasons behind the rules (and sometimes even what the rules are). I’m taking a German grammar class next semester so hopefully all of my questions can be answered.

Frau Peters tries to emphasize the culture as well as the language itself in class. She shows us words that you could never learn out of a textbook. Like “Klatschtante” or “Pedant.” A Klatschtante is normally a woman, which is why the end says “-tante” (aunt) instead of “-onkel” (uncle). Even if you’re talking about a man, you still say “-tante” at the end. A Klatschtante is someone who wants to know everything about everyone’s lives-they crave and create gossip. A Pedant is someone who has to have everything just so (and when they don’t get it their way, there’s hell to pay). It can also mean a person who needs to have everything very clean and organized.

It’s really worthwhile to learn these words. You can take German courses and you can do all the classwork correctly, but there are some things you just don’t know because you yourself aren’t German. Just like in America, there’s a cultural background that anyone who’s trying to learn German will miss out on simply by not being German. Now I sympathize a little bit more with people who learn English as a second language. In America there are plenty of stories, stereotypes, and colloquialisms that everyone knows and uses but we tend to take them for granted. When I return to America, I’m going to try to watch out for those things more just to see what happens.

-Kiwi Lanier

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