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HerlockSholmes

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I hope you won't take offense if I compliment you on the flawlessness of your English.  I had to inquire if you were, in fact, Austrian because there is no evidence at all in your writing of what Sherlock Holmes referred to as the German discourteousness to verbs (SCAN).  I am interested in other people's facility in other languages.

 

:blush:  Let me hand this compliment right back to Carol, Tobe and Fox, who have been outstandingly patient with my language gaffes and keep helping me improve.

 

As for not treating verbs with the proper respect, I think that impression might stem from our tendency to smash nouns together till the infamous Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän results from it, bypassing verbs in the process..

 

Martina, we've only helped you to polish your already-outstanding English skills.  In fact, I believe that (once upon a time) I asked you a similar question regarding your linguistic history.  What really gets me is that you don't sound like a walking textbook, you use English the way a native speaker does, and do it so well that your occasional slip-up startles me!

 

But what the heck does that word (?) mean?

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According to an online translator it means ‘Danube Steamship Company Captain.’ Which explains nothing

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:blush:  Let me hand this compliment right back to Carol, Tobe and Fox, who have been outstandingly patient with my language gaffes and keep helping me improve. Also, the only Mistress here is Irene Adler. :whip:

 

So you have German ancestors? Do you know from which area? Either way, my hat's off to you, German is a tough language to learn (but then again so is Japanese from what I've gathered) and few people attempt that feat willingly. As for not treating verbs with the proper respect, I think that impression might stem from our tendency to smash nouns together till the infamous Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän results from it, bypassing verbs in the process. Still, I think the Welsh got us beat there. :smile:

 

Caya,

My ancestors hail from Prussia, so far as I was able to determine.  But we have been Americans since 1888 or thereabouts.  I believe my great-grandparents spoke German, but their children didn't speak a word, nor their children's children.  Having German ancestry is a bit of a touchy subject, considering world events after my great-great something grandparents came to this country. 

 

I ended up in German class in high school because I got shut out of taking Spanish, my first choice.  My surname begins with W and we registered for classes alphabetically.  Being a W means that I have gotten shut out of many opportunities like this and was always relegated to the back row.  I'm sure a psychologist could make something out of this.  My oldest niece just started high school this year and she *wanted* to take German--alas, the only German teacher (not the one I had) retired and now it's not even offered.  She had to settle for French. 

 

English and German are linguistic first cousins, so a lot of the nouns are very similar.  What trips up non-native speakers of German are your extremely chewy verbs which seem to contain more syllables than strictly necessary and the der, die, das conundrum.  To be honest, I think English is one of the hardest languages to master due to its extreme eccentricity of spelling, pronunciation and grammar rules and the, shall we say, elasticity of our vocabulary.  There's a million exceptions to every rule in English and words so often do not sound like they look.  I've heard it said that English is the S(rhymes with hut) of world languages owing to all the influences it has borrowed from other languages.  Its flexibility makes it a dynamic tongue for sure, but it's tough to get a handle on it as a non-native.  Other languages are more staid and rigid in their syntactical rules and tend to be far less promiscuous  with their vocabulary.  This gives comfort to the student learner navigating it.  English is far more precarious a venture for the student.

 

There are few things in which English is 'easy':  The verb always immediately follows the subject and it does not ask the speaker to decide if a noun is masculine, feminine or neuter.  Our verb structure is hairy enough also without demanding that they also indicate gender!

 

For as flexible as English can be, she can also be rigid and prissy about certain things.  This whole trend of 'non-binary' people is causing a linguistic crisis, since English forces a speaker to choose one (1) pronoun to describe one individual, and even in our enlightened 21st century, that's usually 'he', unless the subject is specifically denoted as female.   Referring to a person who identifies as equally male and female as 'They' or 'themselves' is very awkward.  It sounds like a split personality disorder.  This is a minor inconvenience at present but I think it's just going to keep coming up more and more.

 

So apart from moderating this forum, do you have a profession that requires you to speak and write English extensively?  I'd be interested to know how you learned English so well.  I know your school system introduces it very early but that wouldn't account for your colloquial fluency.  Have you studied abroad, or perhaps have a native English speaker in the family?  As has been pointed out by others, your English does not read like you learned it solely out of a textbook. :lol4:

 

Another random question:  does your country participate in Daylight Savings Time?  We are turning our clocks back in the States tonight (technically at 2AM tomorrow morning).  I am looking forward to an extra hour of sleep.  I am not looking forward to it getting dark at 6pm, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for taking so long to answer this, but our internet conked out. :angry: Anyway, Europe uses DST too but changes at different dates, first Sunday of March and last Sunday of October, respectively. Personally, I could do without it, I'm a night owl anyway.

 

I learned English simply by being a teenage nerd in the 80s, when all the interesting stuff (be it computer programs, scifi/fantasy books or pen&paper games) came in English and was hardly ever available in translation (and even more rarely in a *good* translation). Watching Monty Python helped a lot too, as did a school program our class was lucky enough to participate in, through which we got to stay in London with guest families and attend local comprehensives for a couple weeks when I was 17.

 

I feel your pain when it comes to surnames disadvantaged by alphabetic order - before I married, my last name started with St, so I usually was among the last ones called as well. My husband (whose name starts with an H) didn't have to do a lot of convincing to have me take his name when we married. :lol:

 

Is German ancestry really such a touchy subject anymore in the US? I'm honestly curious (but if it's too touchy please tell me to shut up -_-) - my husband's German, and while people in the US were always a lot more enthusiastic when he introduced himself with "I'm from Vienna" than "I'm German", if the latter produced any adverse reaction they were too polite to show it.

 

And Herlock is right, the word denotes a captain of the (historical, natch) Federal Danube Steamship Company - it's just infamous because it's made fun of in a song (said captain being lonely because the girls he meets on shore leave never write to him because his title's just too much of a bother), but there are in fact longer words in German. A quick googling suggested EG-Verbraucherschutzdurchsetzungsgesetz-Ermächtigungsübertragungsverordnung , but that's legalese. :rolleyes:

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Hi, Caya,

 

I will always remember you now as 'the girl who learned English by watching Monty Python'.  I'm not sure you didn't do it the hard way, because as an American I struggle a bit to understand the Pythons at times.  Let's just say I'd be interested to hear your accent.  :D

 

I used to teach English in Japan, which is a huge money-making business over there, and it is a melting pot for English-speakers from many nations.  I couldn't help but feel sorry for the young Japanese ladies who were students of an Aussie teacher at a private conversational school, because it was hard enough for *me* to glean what the Aussies were saying!  I usually just smiled and said, "Righto, mate!" or similar.  I envisioned a whole classroom of Japanese 20-year-old office ladies speaking pidgin English with a Crocodile Dundee accent.  The Kiwis were a bit more understandable; not so broad in their speech but they still mangled their vowels.

 

I worked with a British bloke at a ladies' junior college.  An American colleague and I were brought on to the teaching staff after the textbook had already been ordered.  There were two other permanent teachers of English there--one was also American and the other guy, Frank, was English.  Frank was also Head Teacher, so that meant that we three Americans were stuck using a British English textbook for the year.

 

You may have heard it said that the British and the Americans are one people separated by a common language.  It's true.  I was forced to test my young ladies out of this material but I also added a 'British to American' translation feature in my class, where I gave them alternate vocabularies suitable for use in my country.  Because I didn't want them to go to the States and walk up to some guy on the street and ask him "Have you got a rubber?"  He would have gotten entirely the wrong impression!!

 

(The American translation of this is:  Do you have an eraser?  :))

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Is German ancestry really such a touchy subject anymore in the US? I'm honestly curious (but if it's too touchy please tell me to shut up -_-) - my husband's German, and while people in the US were always a lot more enthusiastic when he introduced himself with "I'm from Vienna" than "I'm German", if the latter produced any averse reaction they were too polite to show it.

Definitely not where I live, but then a large percentage of the Midwestern population has some German ancestry. Still, I'd be surprised to learn it was still a touchy subject anywhere in the US. (Not that I'm ever surprised by how ridiculous some people can be.)

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 Let's just say I'd be interested to hear your accent.  :D

 

Used to be somewhat British, due to Monty Python and our English teacher (who out-British-ed most Britons :D). After school (and after confusing some Americans by using terms like fortnight) it slowly morphed into something more generic, but I was never able to shake a bit of a hard accent, so when people guess they mostly land on, "dunno, maybe Scottish?". I can still switch to a halfway convincing Greater London accent if I concentrate, though, which can come in handy occasionally - when my husband and I are on holidays, we usually sound out whose compatriots have made more of a fool of themselves lately and then claim to be of the less-embarassing nationality, and in case of a general resentment of any and all German speakers, we're British. :lol:

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Not really, but he's even more of an introvert than me, so he's happy with me having to do all the talking anyway. ;)

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 Let's just say I'd be interested to hear your accent.  :D

 

Used to be somewhat British, due to Monty Python and our English teacher (who out-British-ed most Britons :D). After school (and after confusing some Americans by using terms like fortnight) it slowly morphed into something more generic, but I was never able to shake a bit of a hard accent, so when people guess they mostly land on, "dunno, maybe Scottish?". I can still switch to a halfway convincing Greater London accent if I concentrate, though, which can come in handy occasionally - when my husband and I are on holidays, we usually sound out whose compatriots have made more of a fool of themselves lately and then claim to be of the less-embarassing nationality, and in case of a general resentment of any and all German speakers, we're British. :lol:

 

 

Yep, you've had a British education.  Britons 'go on holiday'.  Americans 'take vacation'.  It's great fun to slip the bonds of one's normal life while 'on holiday', so I hope you guys continue to pretend that you're British whenever you get the opportunity.  :rolleyes:  Not that there's anything wrong with being Viennese, either. 

 

I guess I have a decent ear for accents; at least, I was praised for my accent by my Japanese teacher in Tokyo, but if I trotted out my high school German again, I'm sure you could tell I was American right away (or 'straight away' as they say in the UK).  My first experience with a dyed-in-the-wool Englishman was in my second year of college, when I met my roommate's Mancunian fiancé, Richard.  He was a year or two ahead of us.  To this day, I am still mystified as to why a guy from Manchester wound up studying engineering at a small liberal arts college in Western Pennsylvania that was so off the radar I hadn't known of its existence until I started getting college catalogs and I only lived 45 minutes away.  Nor how he met my roommate, though I suspect it was through the international students' association.  She was not international, but she'd spent a year in Mexico after high school and was studying Spanish.  We had a miniscule number of international students on campus but there were a few.  Mostly South Americans.  I would occasionally have dinner with the lovey dovey couple in the dining hall, and within a few minutes of being in Richard's company, I could feel myself starting to adopt a British accent.  It just kind of naturally happened, going into my ears and out my mouth, but I didn't want him to think I was mocking him.  For me, he was an exotic creature, though he was doing his best to blend in with the other American fraternity oafs, refusing to remove the hood from his hoodie while at the table.  I don't know how college students in your country dress but the de rigueur uniform for the American college male seems to be sweatpants, and hoodie, or, failing hoodie, a ball cap worn backwards.  Jeans are also ubiquitous, of course, but those at least have a waistband.

 

I have only a hazy recollection of Richard's physical features, but I remember a very tall rangy guy, pale, with dirty blond hair and sort of a permanent sneer of superiority on his face.  So whether it's actually true or not, over time Richard's face has come to look awfully like Laurence Fox's face in my memory.  ('Foxy' stars in 'Inspector Lewis' if his name is not familiar.)  Foxy has a much posher accent than Richard did, though.  As far as I know, he and my roommate got married and still reside in Western PA.  She and I are not really in touch, though I think I saw a Facebook post once.  So she was his 'green card babe', haha.  Perhaps this seemed like a desirable lifestyle upgrade to a bloke from Manchester, but Western PA is kind of the American version of Manchester, only with fewer urban amenities.  Maybe Darla would have preferred to move to England. 

 

Since then, I have become an Anglophile in my reading and viewing material, though I don't credit Richard personally for this.  I like detective fiction and I find the Brits have some of the best ones going.  After being marinated in so much BBC America fare, I can use words like 'chuffed' or 'take the p!$$' like a native.  It confuses my fellow Americans, and I like it that way.

 

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I remember when I was in high school, and there were a number of British bands, novels and TV shows I liked, and I'd do the same thing ... unconsciously pick up some of the accent and the "British-isms". And spelling ... to this day I tend to veer between "er" and "re" endings (like writing "yellow ochre" instead of "yellow ocher", for example. The latter just looks wrong to me!). :smile:

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The American dictionary Merriam Webster says that "ochre" is also used here. I never can remember which way it's spelt either, and right now neither one looks right!

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I know what you mean. Spelling's usually pretty instinctive for me, but if I start thinking about it, nothing looks right! :smile:

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The American dictionary Merriam Webster says that "ochre" is also used here. I never can remember which way it's spelt either, and right now neither one looks right!

 

I doubt ochre (or ocher) comes up very often for the average Briton or American, unless they paint in oils.  The one I use the most often is 'theatre'.  It's kind of become my default spelling.  When Yanks talk about the 'theatre' (or theater), we are most often talking about the *movie* theater.  There is a perfectly good word, cinema, to describe the movie theater as well, but I can't recall hearing an American of my acquaintance say cinema, unless they were Siskel & Ebert, and even those guys usually said theater.  Or we just drop theater entirely and say we are going to the movies.

 

'Theatre' in my mind conjures up images of live stage plays and hence, has a posher connotation.  'Theater' looks more utilitarian.

 

When I initially went to Japan, my supervisor was a gal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  She was my first 'in the flesh' Canadian and I found her way of speaking charmingly quaint.  From 'cheque' to 'queue', it was the Queen's English through and through.  She also had a phrase, 'for the next while', as in "This is the way we are going to do things for the next while', that I didn't know if was a Canuckism, or something individual with Priscilla.

 

She was very sporty and took runs every day.  To my vast surprise, she married a former student of hers, a chain-smoking couch potato Tokyo taxi driver, from a long ancestral line of chain-smoking couch potato Tokyoite taxi drivers.  His idea of exercise was going down to the corner kiosk for more cigarettes.  Priscilla was, of course, non-smoking . .and she was also a Christian, whereas her husband and his people were typical Japanese--Shinto.  To this day I still puzzle over how a girl from the wide-open spaces of the Canadian prairies could be happily tethered to this situation, but maybe the sex was amazing?  Her Japanese was impeccable.  Good thing, because he didn't speak much, if any, English.  Opposites truly attracted in this case.

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I doubt ochre (or ocher) comes up very often for the average Briton or American, unless they paint in oils.

Or are addicted to crossword puzzles. ;)

 

'Theatre' in my mind conjures up images of live stage plays and hence, has a posher connotation.  'Theater' looks more utilitarian.

To me, "theatre" sounds like a pretentious establishment that might alternatively be called a "cinema" if it shows "films."  I've heard some people say that a "theater" is for movies and a "theatre" is for stage plays, but that sounds a bit arbitrary to me, and I strongly suspect that the owners of the local art-film establishment might agree with me.

 

When I initially went to Japan, my supervisor was a gal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  [....]  She ... had a phrase, 'for the next while', as in "This is the way we are going to do things for the next while', that I didn't know if was a Canuckism, or something individual with Priscilla.

 

She was very sporty and took runs every day.  To my vast surprise, she married a former student of hers, a chain-smoking couch potato Tokyo taxi driver, from a long ancestral line of chain-smoking couch potato Tokyoite taxi drivers.  His idea of exercise was going down to the corner kiosk for more cigarettes.  Priscilla was, of course, non-smoking . .and she was also a Christian, whereas her husband and his people were typical Japanese--Shinto.  To this day I still puzzle over how a girl from the wide-open spaces of the Canadian prairies could be happily tethered to this situation, but maybe the sex was amazing?  Her Japanese was impeccable.  Good thing, because he didn't speak much, if any, English.  Opposites truly attracted in this case.

I've known at least two Canadians pretty well (one from the prairies and the other from the Montreal area -- though he's English), and don't recall hearing either of them say "for the next while" -- though I myself have been known to say "for the next little while."  Odd how one word makes such a difference

 

I know a gal from Indiana who's been living in Japan most of her life now, teaching conversational English.  She's also married to a former student.  You'd think a former student would be able to speak passable English, but I don't recall ever hearing a single word from my friend's husband -- he's heard more Japanese than that from me!  I suspect he knows English reasonably well (he sometimes travels to the US -- alone -- on business), but is shy about speaking it unless truly necessary.

 

I've heard that the Japanese are on average far less dogmatic about their religion than Americans.  With us it tends to be either-or,  whereas many Japanese will have Shinto weddings and Buddhist funerals (I think I have that straight).  I think my friend said her husband is now a Christian, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he had merely added Christianity to his religious repertoire.

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I doubt ochre (or ocher) comes up very often for the average Briton or American, unless they paint in oils.

Or are addicted to crossword puzzles. ;)

Or throw odd and obscure words and topics into conversation, like I do without realizing it's odd or obscure at the time, lol. I was only just discussing ochre with someone last week.

 

In my world, though, the names of varying shades of colors makes its way into conversation with surprising regularity.

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Ochre's not a common word? Shoot, I use it almost every day. But then, I am rather uncommon.... ;)

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I can't tell if you're being facetious or not, lol. It's common enough to me, but the posts above me suggested otherwise.

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I teach art classes, so yeah, the word pops up regularly. Probably not as often as I implied though, so I was being a bit facetious. Because I can't help myself.....

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I doubt ochre (or ocher) comes up very often for the average Briton or American, unless they paint in oils.

Or are addicted to crossword puzzles. ;)

Or throw odd and obscure words and topics into conversation, like I do without realizing it's odd or obscure....

 

Or had one of those huge boxes of crayons as a kid.  :D

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Me too!  Near as I recall, the biggest my parents ever bought for me was a 16-crayon box, but I know I had seen all the fancy names like ocher (or maybe it was ochre) and burnt sienna.  I finally bought a 64-crayon box for myself a few years ago.  :D

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When I finally started making my own money (during college) one of the first purchases I made was one of those big boxes of crayons. And a handmade leather key fob. I still use both, although the crayons are used rather sparingly. My favorite color is still "Cornflower Blue."

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