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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Best Part About Learning German

German Language Study Technique #257: Swallow a mouthful of mayo 
for every incorrectly conjugated verb. That'll learn you good.

Admittedly, my opinion regarding the German language is a little bit biased. I started learning the language about 20 years ago. It's probably also the one thing that I can say with confidence that I've stuck with for this long. It also helps that I've had multiple immersion opportunities. Which is why I'm sure I sound insane, when I tell brand new expats to Germany that learning German is awesome. I probably also sound insane, when I tell the same thing to native German speakers.

So what does mayonnaise have to do with learning German? Nothing. But also everything. You see, the best part about learning German is that after you've grasped the basic phonetic tenets of the language, you can read just about any word in the language. You might not understand what they mean, but you'll be able to pronounce them, more or less, regardless of extreme length or changes to EU policy for testing for mad cow disease.

Some native speakers still rip on me for some persistent pronunciation hiccups and there are all sorts of wacky loan words/brand names where you have to just make your best guess. However, if native speaker gets a little persnickety, you can just do what I do and ask them to say the word "squirrel". Afterwards, you can both share a hearty laugh of international friendship.

The spelling reform kind of made it a bitch to spell certain words (ironically, with the intent of making the language easier to learn),'s a lot better than shit like "colonel". If you're new to learning German, then it probably doesn't even apply to you anyway...unless you're using some old-ass books. So, really, there's nothing stopping you from starting to learn German today.

Except...maybe all of those other New Year's resolutions that you made. I'm not going to tell you how to prioritize your life.

Anyway, I bought this bottle of mayonnaise, because I wanted to make a tuna fish sandwich and was blessed with this alternate spelling that I'm sure has been around forever, but which I'm only seeing now for the first time.

So thank you, Majonäse (in particular) and German (in general), for showing me that some things can look crazy fucked up and still make perfect sense within the context.

Side note #1: Hey, French, maybe you could take a page out of the book of "Pronouncing Words Exactly How They're Spelled". Maybe we'd have avoided the whole aforementioned "colonel" thing. Or even the proper spelling of "mayonnaise" which has like 10 different pronunciations in English and all sorts of superfluous letters.

Side Note #2: Don't think you get off that easy, English. You're probably the worst of them all.

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