Dear German people of the world,
I would like to speak with you about your prepositions.
Prepositions — those words which describe the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of an object — can be tricky in any language. In the German language, however, prepositions are both predictably and unnecessarily complex. What follows is a story I hope will illustrate my point:
Back in the summer of 2011, during a trip to Germany, The Wife and I drove in a tiny car from Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) to Berlin. I made my wife drive the entire time, and I did this for two reasons:
- The car had a manual transmission, and I hadn’t touched a stick shift since 1997. (That sounded naughty, didn’t it.)
- I am afraid of driving on the Autobahn because you Germans in your fancy BMWs like to haul ass at like 120 mph. (Or 193.12 km/h, if you want to be an Arschloch about it.)
We had a TomTom navigation system with us, and since my wife was driving, we set its verbal instructions to German. I knew a whole lot less of the language back then, but I did realize we seemed to be taking a lot of right turns after the TomTom said “rechts,” and a lot of left turns after it said “links.” Naturally, I concluded these two words meant “right” and “left,” respectively, and went about the rest of our trip feeling proud as hell of myself for being such a quick study of the German language.
Since returning to the States, I’ve operated under the assumption that I knew how to say “right” and “left” in my wife’s native language. However, thanks to Mango Languages, I just discovered “rechts” and “links” mean, very specifically, “on the right” and “on the left.”
Furthermore, I am now required to learn another kind of “right,” which is “gleich” — a more immediate “right” — as in “right next to it.” And if I want to say “right” in order to describe something that is correct? Oh, for that one I get to learn, “richtig” or “genau.” And what if I just want to affirm something, like, “Learning German sucks, right?” Well, that sort of “right” demands I memorize the words, “nicht wahr,” “korrekt” or “gell.” On top of all this, some of these words are slang, and others are only used in certain regions of the country.
German people of the world — would you like to know exactly how many words we have in English for the word “right?” …ONE. Just one. We have many uses for it and several decent alternatives, but only one we ask you to memorize.
Aww hell, we love you anyway, you Teutonic sons of bitches. Sprechen sie Deutsch, baby.
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