Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Indians Can Learn German Easily

The fact that Indian languages and German are related is old hat. They are part of what is called the Indo-European family of languages.

So you have words that are similar. Experts could hold your attention for hours with scholastic discourse on similar sounding words and sentence structures.

I am no scholar of languages. But during my attempt to learn German, I noticed a few things which are worth sharing - aspects that fox many.

For highlighting these aspects I will take Hindi to be the representative language. Though this is applicable to any language derived from Sanskrit.

1) 'Sie' in German could mean 'you' (plural), 'she' or 'you' (singular, formal). It is easy to find when the word is used to denote 'she'. The verb form is different. However, 'you' (plural) and 'you' (polite) take identical verb form. This could be confusing before you suddenly realise that Hindi has identical element in the form of 'aap'. 'Aap' is used to address people formally as well as to address many. 'Sie' and 'aap' are identical in nature.

2) The informal word for 'you' in German is 'du'. Isn't it identical to 'tu'?

3) Hindi when pronounced correctly sounds very different from when it is pronounced by a typical north Indian (I have been in Gwalior, by the way and am guilty of the same). While speaking we tend to chop the last bit. For example, when phonetically written, Rama should be pronounce 'Raama' - meaning, the last alphabet should be pronounced completely, with a stress on 'ma'. A typical north Indian would pronounce this as "Raam'. In Hindi and Sanskrit, this is distinguished by use of a 'halant'.
(By the way, a typical south Indian goes the other way - they would pronounce the word as 'Raamaa')
So what is this to do with German? All words in German that end with 'e' is pronounced with emphasis on the letter preceding 'e'. For example, 'leute' (people) is pronounced with the 't' complete pronounced (identical to 'Raama') - not 'loyt'.

The best way to learn German is of course to keep writing the pronunciation key next to the words. So, use of Devanagri script (the script in which many Indian languages are written) gives a great control over the pronunciation key. It helped me a lot. And since Hindi is pronounced exactly as it is written, pronunciation keys written in Devanagri script gives an added benefit.

Of course, it helps if you hear German spoken. Also see Free German resources.

Note: The picture used belongs to A. Kratzenberg. To see more such pictures please visit gallery.

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1 comment:

planetspirit said...

Hi, the analysis you presented is exceptionally good. Mind-blowing.

It made me to feel like I am already one step forwarded before started learning the German Language.

I was ruthlessly trying where and how to start learning German.

But your article has placed an idea in my mind. Thank you..

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