“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!” If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back in 1989 (six episode playlist). The shows were both translated in to French, German (playlist), Spanish (and the Spanish vocabulary builder), and Italian (Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back).
A number of different languages utilize compounded words, but German has a number of fun examples in the animal kingdom: how to name animals in German (Compounding German words, previously)
Visualize a comic book, in your language, and imagine what would be written in the text balloon coming from the mouth of an animal. Now translate it. Derek Abbott of The University of Adelaide (previously) has compiled "the world’s biggest multilingual list" of animal sounds, commands, and pet names.
A simple guide to how compound words work in German. (SLYT, rudimentary German makes it funnier but probably not essential)
Idibon, a company that specializes in language processing, decided to rank the world's languages to see which had the most unusual features. The winner was Chalcatongo Mixtec, a language spoken by 6000 people in Mexico. The most normal language? Hindi. [more inside]
Some are strong, and some are weak. The weak, as is well known, are easily mastered—completely regular and, frankly, pathetic. But it doesn't have to be that way! The Society for the Strengthening of Verbs labors at its noble cause of strengthening verbs and nouns (in English too, though with less Sprachgefühl), increasing the stock of causatives, and generally messing around with German (excuse me, with Neutsch).
Over the past 13 years, Berlin resident Klaus Beyer has translated the Beatles' entire oeuvre into German, recording the translated songs in his home studio and releasing them on CDs with titles like Gummi Seele, Kloster strasse and Das Gelbe Underwasserboot, even recreating the cover artwork of the originals. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
Twenty-four different accents in just over eight minutes. (NSFW SLYT)
The Beatles in German: "Sie liebt dich" ("She Loves You"); "Komm gib mir deine Hand" ("I Want to Hold Your Hand"); "Geh raus" (quick and dirty rendering of "Get Back"); "Mein Herz ist bei dir nur" (Tony Sheridan and the Beat Boys' version of "My Bonnie".) [more inside]
Es gibt viele Quellen überall im Internet, wo man Deutsch hören und sehen kann. There are countless German TV channels, great podcasts, and news outlets online. Here are some of the best. Not fluent? Es geht weiter! [more inside]
At One Minute Languages you can learn greetings, talking about names, counting, and more in Catalan, Danish, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Luxembourgish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, and Russian.
Griko is a language used by the descendents of ancient Greek colonists in southern Italy that still has thousands of speakers. Pennsylvania Dutch, the only German language native to North America, was used as a first language until well into the twentieth century. Ladino ia a variant of medieval Spanish written in the Hebrew alphabet that florished among refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in modern Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. Welcome to the world of ethnolinguistics.
And you thought football itself was the universal language. The London chapter of the Goethe Institute jumps on the opportunity and offers a £35 crash course in German for the World Cup. Start out with these handy play scenario charts (pdf). Or, take the easy route and turn to AskMen for guidance.
As of today, the German language has changed, ending a 10 year state of flux which has seen new spelling rules mixed with the old ones. Under the new system, "extremely long compound words have been broken up, comma rules have been simplified, and in many cases a double-S replaces the old letter sign for the sound, which resembles a capital B." But given the strong resistance to the new rules from some in the German community, it may be a little premature to add the old German language to to the list of lost languages (previously discußed here) just yet. Anyway, for Mefite linguaphiles interested in this significant and now seemingly permanent change to the German language, check out the German spelling reform timeline.
Are dictionaries the realm of the elite and the educated? For a change of pace, there is an extensive dictionary of Russian swears with hundreds of words translated into French and German .. Oh and it's also two way - French swears and German swears are both translated into Russian. [More Inside]
Es wie wie dies und wie das und wie dies, und. Vibrant demonstration of why your favorite hip-hop artist is unlikely to be German. Link via little black dada cat.
The British Council polls non-English speakers for the seventy most beautiful English words. Mother comes out on top (as ever), with lullaby, oi (my favourite), and — bizarrely — hen night also appearing. I much prefer the examples of Wilfred Funk (and others): dawn, chalice and gossamer, for instance [source origin]. Beautiful words can be combined to form beautiful phrases and sometimes more. German words are also beautiful; habseligkeiten (meaning property), and such. Words can also be curious, people have observed; but also be truly awful, as a quick search of the phrases "global experience" and "leading edge" will attest.
Spelling Bee has a sting in the tail... The highly influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has abandoned the much-heralded German spelling reforms, arguing that the attempt to simplify and "democratise" the language has been a costly mistake. At the same time, though, the new Duden is accused of including too many English words such as "downloaden, Wellness and chatten, Backstage, Smiley and Trash", allegedly indebted to "advertisers and cyber geeks".Given that MeFi readers are, generally, from the two cultures separated by a common language, it's an interesting case study of state intervention gone wrong...