He resumed his study 28 years later in preparation for a trip to Europe. Upon his arrival in Short essay on my family in german, the fruit of this recent scholarship was attested to in the advice of a friend: “Speak in German, Mark.
Some of these people may understand English. During this 1878 stay in Germany, Twain had a dream in which, according to his notebook, “all bad foreigners went to German Heaven—couldn’t talk and wished they had gone to the other place. Gunilla Anderman and Margaret Rogers describe the work as “Twain’s most famous philological essay”. Twain continued to give lectures into the 20th century regarding the language.
He is, as the subject suggests, focusing on German as a language, but Twain is also dealing with English to compare the two languages. Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp. Let the pupil make careful note of the following exceptions. He runs his eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the rule than instances of it.
The inflections within the language are used to represent both syntax and semantics, and function is assigned in hard to grasp ways, which combine with Twain’s claim about exceptions being rather common in the German language. Part of this stems from the language’s word order, along with gender, number, and other linguistic aspects, being connected to the morphology of individual words. One of the key emphases within the work is on German linguistic gender. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book.
In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. The problem with the linguistic gender is that it appears to make sense in theory, but it operates in an illogical manner. The actual relationship between gender and noun is unclear, and it is difficult for a learner of German to psychologically connect their understanding of the words with the gender rules. To Twain, there was no reason for concepts such as a fish’s scale having a feminine gender but a fishwife, an actual female, lacking any. It is a bleak Day. Snow, how he drifts along, and oh the Mud, how deep he is!
Scale has even got into its Eye. And it cannot get her out. Sound comes out of him, alas he is drowned by the raging of the Storm. Twain was learning at the time of the work.
Many other languages contain some or all of the idiosyncrasies that Twain pokes fun at, including French, Russian, and Latin. Anderman and Rogers 2003 p. Anderman and Rogers 2003 pp. Housen and Pierrand 2005 p. Anderman, Gunilla and Rogers, Margaret. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005. Housen, Alex and Pierrand, M.