Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blame it on the fairy tales

German word of the day: Wort (word)

There is one thing about the German language that really annoys me. All of the nouns are capitalized.

For the last week of class I kept thinking that it must just look like my teacher is capitalizing random words.

My mistake....

Like a good student, I was doing my homework last night. As David looked over my work, he told me to capitalize the nouns.

Me: Why? The staaten (state) isn't a proper noun.

David: All nouns are capitalized.

Me: What? Weird. Why?

David: I don't know. I know more about English grammar than German grammar. Ask your teacher. He'll know.

So today I asked my teacher about why all nouns are capitalized and I got a story worth sharing.

Apparently, the first German dictionary was compiled by the Grimm Brothers. Grimm like the fairy tale guys. When they took the dictionary to the editor, they were told that there were too many worts (words). ( Uh duh, it's a language. The breadth of any language isn't short. Sorry for the aside, I just need to add in my two cents here.) The editor told them they needed some way to distinguish between different types of words. So they capitalized the nouns...and it stuck.

Danish (and one of the other Scandinavian languages) also used to be like this. Then, after WWI, they wanted to deGermanize their languages and took out the capitalization of all nouns. During the communist era, many leftists in Germany tried to rid the German language of the old, bad ways. It didn't work. So here we are today...capitalized nouns.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My hands are purple!?!

I've finally moved into my new apartment and have so time for a brief blog.

My husband LOVES red cabbage. He loves it so much that he decided to buy two of them for us and 3 for his parents. (Yes, my mother-in-law thought it was a bit much too.) Don't get me wrong here, I like red cabbage. However, two red cabbages is the equivalent of 4 pots of cooked red cabbage. This means lots of work for me. I love to cook so normally this wouldn't be a problem, but there was a tiny flaw this time....I just moved to a new country and don't quite have the equipment to cook red cabbage. So here is how it all went down:

I stare a the cabbage and like any good engineer, I assess the problem.

I attempt to cut the cabbage in half. However, I have a 2 in knife that is pretty dull as my only sharp kitchen tool.

I fail miserably.

I take a deep breathe, regroup and I decide instead to use the grater. I soon find the 3 kg cabbage a bit too heavy and too large to manage with a grater.

I put the cabbage on the cutting board and take the dull knife and start to manually shred the cabbage.

I find this method to be slow, but it gets the job done so I continue.

About a tenth of the way into shredding the cabbage, my father-in-law comes in and observes the madness.

Ralf: I'm no expert in the kitchen, but usually doesn't one use a long knife to cut such a vegetable.

Me: Usually I do, but this is all I have.

Ralf: Oh dear!

30 minutes later....

The cabbage is shredded and in cooking in the pot.

I survey my work space, and to my horror everything is a lovely shade of bluish-purple--- INCLUDING MY HANDS!!!

Sigh...the things we do for those we love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

die Orgel

I have a new favorite German word...Orgel (organ). It's just a fun word to say. When I first saw it printed I had to giggle...just a little.

Last night I went to a concert for the Baden-W├╝rttemberg state youth choir. The concert was held in the church of David's parents. While this church is by no means and architectural wonder like the well-known churches in Europe, it does have some beautiful stained glass windows and a very impressive organ. This organ is so impressive that it takes up the entire back part of the church.

We got to the concert with a few minutes to spare, unfortunately there were no good empty seats on the bottom level. We ventured up to the upper floor in search of seats. As luck would have it, three seats with a prime view of the choir and organ had just been emptied. These made for an excellent show. One thing about going to watch a choir is that it is purely entertainment for the ears. Since I need to have multiple levels of sensory entertainment, I was lucky enough to be able to watch the organist play, which is a show in and of itself.

In the middle of the concert, the choir took a break and the audience was treated to a wonderful piece fur die orgel (btw the u in fur should have two dots above it but I'm not using a German keyboard at the moment). During the piece, David and I started talking about the organ. Commenting on things like 'where does an organist practice? In a church?' From there, I commented about how it would be impossible to own your own organ because even the small ones cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. David told me that the church actually renovated the organ about 15 years ago for about 1.3 million euros. David even rode his bike to help raise money for the renovations. I think it is pretty great that there are still places in the world where a church wants to spend that kind of money to renovate an organ and that there are still people who want to work to raise the money.