Friday, May 9, 2008

Caress a circle, it will become vicious.

The title is a quotation from "The Bald Soprano" an hilarious play by Eugene Ionesco. The play is absurdist and contains long strings of nonsense statements with little consideration given to "plot." Ionesco was inspired to write it while attempting to learn English. I always thought, what a silly book he must've used.

Most language-learning CDs and books teach you typical touristy things. "Where is the harbor?" "I would like an orange juice." But my new favorite website gives you words and sentences based on estimated usage. The words are pretty typical: articles, business jargon, weather talk, but the sentences are crazy! Here is a sampling of today's sentences, along with translation.

Ungefähr 30 Leute sind wegen der Hitzewelle gestorben.

About 30 people have died in the heatwave.

Ein Versprechen ist ein Versprechen.

A promise is a promise.

Sie war ein sehr schlimmes Kind.

She was a very naughty child.

Du verschwendest dein Geld.

You are wasting your money.

Ich schätze deine Ehrlichkeit.

I appreciate your honesty.

Er sagte, dass er mit seiner Alkoholerkrankung sein ganzes Erwachsenenleben gekämpft hat.

He said that he has battled the disease of alcoholism for all of his adult life.

Die Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Israel und Hisbollah zeigen keine Zeichen des Nachlassens.

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah shows no signs of letting up.

Jemand hat mein Fahrrad gestohlen.

Somebody stole my bicycle.

Es ist nicht deine Schuld.

This is top secret.

What does this tell us about the German people? They are all spies with naughty children who spend extravagantly and abhor their weather? Ryan seems to have stumbled on the holy grail of German sample sentences "These are inhumane conditions we are living in." (I forget the German) The Germans who say such things are either incredibly gloomy or have a very dry sense of humor. I hope it's the latter.

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