This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Nuts and Bolts: German Rules.

The German people are said to enjoy a good rule, but anyone who has ever struggled to learn the German language knows it is a thing of exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions.

Take German verbs..., no, please. Just take them.

I mean, I know that our English verbs can do odd things - sing, sang, sung, is an example of an English verb refusing to do the expected (in Germany, not at all coincidentally, they say singen sang gesungen) but most English verbs, in fact eighty six per cent of the commonest thousand ones, work to the rule add an -ed to make the thing into a past tense, add an occasional -s or -ing for other purposes, and otherwise leave the blasted thing alone.

But German verbs... German, only forty five per cent of the commonest thousand verbs follow the commonest pattern - and, as the logicians among you will have spotted, this means that no verbs in German can really be said to be regular because they're all exhibit minority patterns.

Now, what I want to know is this:

a) is the German people's reputed love of rules a reaction to the glorious chaos of their language?

or b) is the glorious chaos of the German language an example of no one being prepared to change a multitude of very ancient rules?

Do tell us if you know, won't you.

Word To Use Today: a wonderful German one like Kummerspeck,  which means, literally, grief bacon. It's the weight people put on through comfort-eating at a time of emotional distress.

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