Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ich bin (nicht) frustriert! more on language learning

Here's a table representing some more English-German cognates:

die Frustration
to frustrate

die Komplikation
to complicate

In a previous post, entitled "it's all in the patterns",  I hypothesized a better method of enlarging your vocabulary in a foreign language is to recognize and utilize patterns.

Let's elaborate on this idea using the above table.
For example, what can we infer about German from the above examples?

1.  examining the verbs first, we notice most German verbs end in -en.  This is useful for us in differentiating verbs from the other parts of speech as we read.

2. drop the -en off of the German verbs, + t and you have an adjective form.  (This is also the method for making the past participle of many German verbs: studieren > studiert, probieren > probiert...)

3. the noun forms in English and German are eerily similar.  So, if you're thinking of an -tion ending word in English, you might want to try the same word in German (but use a more German pronunciation). 

Also, let's make a few more observations on the German nouns.  Notice the nouns are capitalized, this is not by mistake.  In German, nouns are capitalized (making it much easier for students to identify nouns in written text). 
The nouns are preceded by "die", a definite article (like "the" in English)
One tricky thing about the German language is nouns are preceded by either a masculine, feminine, or neuter article (masculine=der, feminine= die, neuter= das)
I find it extremely difficult to learn the proper article matching the nouns as there are few hard and fast rules as to which noun endings take which.  However, on the basis of the above table, when uncertain, I would add a "die" before any -tion ending nouns in German.  Although this might not work 100% of the time, rules don't have to be 100% effective to be useful.

The final point derived from this table concerns pronunciation and phonics.  If we look at complicated > kompliziert and complication > Komplikation, one notices the hard "c" of English (cat, carrier, carpenter, corn) is represented in German by the "k".

Hopefully you found this analysis of language interesting.  Please bear in mind communication usually happens at the sentence, not word level so it would be useful to make some sentences using the different parts of speech.

Zum beispiel (For example):
1.     ich bin frustriert
2.     ich bin nicht frustriert
3.     Bist du (Sind Sie) frustriert?
4.     Warum sind sie frustriert?
5.     Meine Frustration ist kompliziert.
6.     Meine Frustration ist nicht kompliziert.
7.     Ist das kompliziert?
8.     Nein, das ist nicht kompliziert!
9.     Warum ist das so kompliziert?! :(

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