Sunday, November 28, 2010

28 November 2010

1. Review declension of der, die, das.

2. See Lange, PDF page 39: interrogative pronouns wer, was, and welcher.

2. See Lange, PDF page 7: declension of ein and kein.

4. Review the exercises from last time.

5. Review the passage from the previous week.

6. How to decline adjectives used with a definite article. See Lange PDF page 23. Only the nominitative singular forms, and the feminine and neuter accusative singular forms, take -e instead of -en.

(Exceptions: cardinal numbers above ein, and adjectives formed from names of cities, like die Berliner Zeitung and das Münchener Kammerorchester.)

7.  Try rewriting the passage with ich and children, and with a queen and daughters, instead of a king and sons.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Die drei Faulen


Ancient Declension, Form I nouns
der König, des Königs, die Könige - king
der Tod, des Todes, die Tode - death
der Strick, des Strickes, die Stricke - cord, rope

der Sohn, des Sohnes, die Söhne - son
der Hals, des Halses, die Hälse - neck

Ancient Declension, Form II
der Vater, des Vaters, die Väter (note the umlaut in plural) - father
das Messer, des Messers, die Messer - knife (Mackie Messer) (Not the gender: der Messer is in not a knife but a surveyor.)
der Tropfen, des Tropfens, die Tropfen - drop, tear
das Feuer, des Feuers, die Feuer - fire

Ancient Declension, Form III
das Kind, des Kindes, die Kinder - child

Ancient Declension, Form IV
 die Ferse, der Ferse, die Fersen - heel 

faul - rotten, lazy.
gleich - equal, equally
lieb - dear, dearly (Used in salutations of letters.)
der älteste - the oldest
der zweite - the second
der dritte - the third
meist - most: das Meiste = the most

Possessive adjectives
mein - my
sein - his

sagen - to say

wissen - to know
sterben - to die
wollen - to want
bestimmen - to specify
denken - to think
bedenken - to think about
öffnen - to open
eröffnen - to disclose; (it can also mean to begin an event: Hitler used a form of eröffnen to announce the beginning of the 1936 Olympics.
liegen - to lie (e.g. in bed)
schlafen - to sleep
ein-schlafen- to fall asleep.
werden - to become
es fällt mir - I am lacking (lit., it is lacking to me)
sprechen - to speak
liegen - to lie (as in bed)
er/sie/es spricht - he/she/it speaks
(er/sie/es sprach - he/she/it spoke)
hören - to hear
gehören - to belong
es gehört mir - it belongs to me.
er/sie/es  hört - he/she/it hears
(er/sie/es hörte - he/she/it heard)
du sollst - you should
ich würde - I would
er/sie/es  würde - he/she/it would
brennen - to burn (vgl. der Brennpunkt, focus: literally burning-point)
verbrennen - to  char, to roast
bleiben - to remain
lassen - to let, to leave; to have something done
schneiden - to cut

Verb Prefixes
er- as a verb-prefix creates a more emphatic meaning: while öffnen means to open, eröffnen means to open with a purpose: it means to reveal. Similarly, while hören is to hear, erhören is to listen. While hängen is a transitive verb that means to hang, erhängen (erhenken) means to hang for the purpose of killing.

ver- as a verb prefix can alter the meaning in ways that are not always predictable, but it often imparts a bad connotation to the action: lassen - to let, to leave, but verlassen - to abandon.

be- as a verb-prefix turns an intransitive verb into a transitive one, eliminating the need for a preposition to link the verb to its object.

Intransitive verb:    Ich denke an das Buch. - I think about the book.

Made transitive:     Ich bedenke das Buch. - I contemplate the book.
They mean the same.

Any German adjective can be used as an adverb, but there are also a few words that are strictly adverbial, for example those referring to time.

schon - already (not to be confused with the umlauted word schön, pretty.)

vor (almost always with the dative) - before
nach (+dat.) after
von (+dat.) - of, from, by (in the sense of "done by"); von is used exactly like de in Spanish or French. In some uses von with a dative noun can be replaced with the genitive of the same noun with no preposition.
bei (+dat.) - at (e.g. beim Feuer, at the fire: beim = bei + dem)
um (+acc.) around: um den Hals = around the neck.

um can also be a conjunction introducing a purpose clause.
um zu + infinitive = in order to
um mich nicht erhenken zu lassen - in order not to let myself be hanged.

etwas - something
nichts - nothing
mir - to/for me (dative 1st person singular personal pronoun)
mich - me (accusative 1st person singular personal pronoun)
euch - you-all, to/for you-all (2nd person plural dative and accusative personal pronoun)
ihm - to/for him, to/for it (2nd pers. dat singular personal pronoun, masc. and neut.)

Simplified Text of Die drei Faulen:

Ein König hat drei Söhne. Die Söhne sind ihm alle gleich lieb. Der König will wissen, welchen er zum König nach seinem Tode bestimmen soll. Der König sagt: "liebe Kinder, ich will euch etwas eröffnen. Welcher von euch ist der Faulste? Er soll nach mir König werden."

Der älteste Sohn sagt: "Vater, ich bin so faul, wenn ich liege und will schlafen, und es fällt mir ein Tropfen in den Augen, mache ich nichts, und ich einschlafe nicht."

Der zweite Sohn sagt: "Vater, das Reich gehört mir, denn ich bin so faul, wenn ich sitze beim Feuer, und die Fersen verbrennen, bleibe ich da."

Der dritte Sohn sagt: 'Vater, das Reich ist mein, denn ich bin so faul, wenn ich ein Messer schon in der Hand habe,  würde ich nicht einen Strick um den Hals schneiden, um nicht mich erhenken zu lassen.

Als der Vater das hört, sagt er: "Du machst das Meiste; du sollst der König sein."

Some present-tense verb conjugations to memorize:


ich will
du willst
er/sie/es will
wir wollen
ihr wollt
sie wollen

ich soll
du sollst
er/sie/es soll
wir sollen
ihr sollt
sie sollen


ich sage
du sagst
er/sie/es sagt
wir sagen
ihr sagt
sie sagen

ich höre
du hörst
er/sie/es hört
wir hören
ihr hört
sie hören


Translate to English
Der König hat drei Söhne und nur ein Reich.
Hat der  König eine Tochter?
Im Anfang sagt der Philosoph dem König, welchen Sohn er zum Koenig machen soll.
Welcher Sohn soll das Reich haben?
Der gute König macht Fortschritt im Reiche.
Welchen Sohn soll er zum König nach seinem Tode werden lassen?
Das ist ein Räthsel.
Er ist ein guter Jurist.
Ist es des Mannes Vorzug, den Faulsten zum Koenig zu bestimmen?

Translate to German.
The king and his sons are mammals.
The king has three daughters.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lesson Two

Noun Vocabulary

a. Quiz on declension of nouns and the definite article.

b. Noun-vocabulary from Haeckel that follows the patterns already learned.
Nouns presented in Lesson One were divided into the Ancient Declension and the Modern Declension. The Ancient Declension was further subdivided into Forms I-IV.

Form I of the Ancient Declension consists of nouns that add -e to form the plural, and some of them also umlaut the vowel in the plural. The examples given by Lange were der Tisch, das Bein, and die Hand (ä). Similarly declined nouns used by Haeckel include the following:

der Begriff - concept
der Blick ("einen Blick zu werfen")
der Augenblick
der Stoff - substance, material
der Kohlenstoff - carbon
das Ding - thing (roughly equivalent to Latin res; Heidegger wrote, Was ist ein Ding?)
das Gebiet - area
das Reich
der Stern - star
der Fixstern
das Jahr, die Jahre
das Jahrhundert
der Konflikt
der Schritt
der Fortschritt
der Rückschritt

der Process (der Prozess in more recent German)

der Punkt
der Brennpunkt

das Spiel - game
das Schauspiel - play, drama

das System, des Systems, die Systeme
das Planetensystem

das Recht - justice, right
das Thier - animal
das Herrenthier - primate
das Säugethier - mammal
das Wirbethier - vertebrate
das Zottenthier

der Zweig - branch
der Primatenzweig

with modified vowel
der Anfang. die Anfänge - beginning ("im Anfang" or am Anfang: in the beginning)

der Band, die Bände - ribbon, band, bond, volume of a book.
der Verband - association.
der Zellverband

der Lauf, die Läufe  (<laufen, to run) - run, race, course. ("im Laufe der Zeit" - in the course of time)

der Stamm - stem; family, tribe, race.
der Thierstamm
der Wirbelthierstamm - the tribe of vertebrates

der Stand, die Stände - status
der Gegenstand, die Gegenstände - object; topic
der Verstand - understanding, comprehension
der Menschenverstand
der Zustand - condition

der Raum, die Räume - space
der Weltraum - outer space
der Zeitraum

die Kraft, dieKräfte - energy, force, power.
die Dampfkraft - steam-power
die Lebenskraft - life-force.
die Naturkraft - force of nature.

der Zug, die Züge -  pull; trait
der Bezug ("in Bezug auf")
der Hauptzug - main characteristic
der Vorzug - preference

Form II of the Ancient Declension consists of nouns whose plural and singular forms are fundamentally the same. The examples that he gave were die Mutter, die Tochter, and das Mädchen. The first two, die Mutter, die Tochter, only change insofar as they are umlauted in the plural. Some words from this declension used by Haeckel are: 

der Beobachter. des Beobachters, die Beobachter
der Forscher
der Vorgänger
das Räthsel (Rätsel in more recent German)
das Welträthsel

In Form III of the Ancient Declension  the plural is formed by adding -er and umlauting stem-vowel if possible.  We find a few of these in Haeckel:

das Buch, die Bücher
das Haupt, die Häupter
der Mann, die Männer
das Licht, die Lichter
das Sonnenlicht

Form IV of the Ancient Declension has the plural formed by adding -en or just -n.  There is an abundance of these in Haeckel.

die Form, die Formen - form.
die Frage, die Fragen - question.

die Frau also would appear to belong to this group but for some reason Lange's book gives it as an example of the Modern Declension.

Greek-derived scientific words ending in -ik all belong to this declension. Note: where English uses quasi-plural forms like politics and ethics, German and some other European languages (e.g. French) use a feminine singular form to mean the same. Thus in German die Physiken  would not mean physics but different kinds of physics.

die Energetik
die Ethik - ethic (as in The Protestant Ethic), ethics.
die Kritik, die Kritiken  - critique (English and German both got the word from French.)
die Mechanik - mechanics (not a mechanic, which is der Mechaniker. Likewise the names of other professionals dealing with these fields can be created by adding -er.)
die Musik
die Optik
die Politik, die Politiken - policy
die Physik
die Astrophysik
die Republik, die Republiken (It is really a Latin term, res publica, that was assimilated into this category. Accordingly publik is not a noun but an adjective in German.)

die Technik, die Techniken - technology, engineering

A special subgroup of the IVth-Form Ancient Declension consists in those foreign words ending in -ismus, which drop the -us before adding -en in the plural. These are abundant in Haeckel. They are all masculine. The meaning is usually self-evident because we have variants of these same foreign words in English.

der Absolutismus
der Anthropismus
der Dualismus
der Egoismus
der Homotheismus
der Monismus
der Organismus, die Organismen
der Elementarorganismus
der Magnetismus
der Materialismus
der Pantheismus
der Theismus
der Papismus
der Spiritualismus

The Modern Declension differs from the IVth Form of the Ancient Declension in that most of the singular forms also have -en added. Only the nominative singular form lacks it. Lange gave the examples der Graf and der Affe. (Lange also put die Frau here but it seems to belong to Form IV of the Ancient Declension.)

der Mensch, des Menschen, die Menschen - man, human, person.
der Kulturmensch
der Naturmensch
der Menschenaffe, des Menschenaffen, die Menschenaffen - anthropoid ape.
der Philosoph, des Philosophen, die Philosophen
der Naturphilosoph
der Planet, des Planeten, die Planeten

Words with the Greek suffix -ist belong to the modern declension.

der Jurist, des Juristen, die Juristen
der Protist, des Protisten, die Protisten - protozoan

c. Present active indicative conjugation of haben.

ich habe
du hast
er/sie/es hat

wir haben
ihr habt
sie haben

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lesson One

This was how it actually went on 8 November 2010.

1. Declining the Definite Article and Several Types of Nouns.

a. The Alphabet and Pronunciation. Special attention was required for the umlauted vowels; I explained that the umlaut represented an e following the vowel, and originally was written as an e superscript. I also pointed out ways in which some of the letters were homophones, and which letters (all of them homophones) belonged primarily to foreign words, which appear often in scientific writing such as Haeckel's. I also highlighted the letters that were visually difficult to distinguish in Fraktur, or in the case of capital J and capital I, indistinguishable. I explained why J and I were the same. We used PDF pages 34-36 in Lange's grammar.

b. Introduction to gender, case, and number. All Aryan languages, including English, at one time had a case system. A few other language-families like Semitic and Uro-Altaic also have a case system. In a simplified summary of the German case system, the nominative form of an article or noun is used as the subject of a verb, the accusative is for the direct object, the genitive is translated with the word of, and the dative with to/for. Why do nouns in German have gender?  Probably because prehistoric man didn't distinguish between animate and inanimate.  How interesting too, that females are not considered to have feminine gender until they marry (die Frau, feminine, compared to das Fraeulein, neuter).

b. The Definite Article (PDF page 37 in the grammar, to be memorized). One should learn all the possibilities for each form. It would have been easy to establish a different form for each gender-case-number designation but for some reason the German language recycles only six forms (der, die, des, dem, den, die) for 16 different designations. Certainly there is a potential for confusion there.  You  have to be thoroughly familiar with that.

c. Paradigms of various types of noun (to be memorized). This covered most of the material on PDF pages 47-48, with only Herr and Herzen excluded.

d. Nominative forms of the personal pronoun and the present indicative conjugation of Sein.

The student agreed to memorize the declensions of der Tisch, das Bein, die Hand, die Mutter, die Tochter, das Maedchen, der Geist, das Dorf, das Lied, der Mast, der Schmerz, das Auge, der Graf, der Affe, and die Frau, and the definite article. I told him to be able to name the possible gender, case, and number identifications for each form with or without an accompanying definite article. He also agreed to memorize the present, active, indicative conjugation of sein. It seems enough to keep somebody studying for a week. I promised to introduce some similarly declined nouns from Haeckel's vocabulary in the next session.

Course Description

A friend of mine who is an academic and a specialist in philosophy is interested in learning German, and I have consented to give him lessons via Skype. The first lesson was on 8 November 2010.

He is primarily interested in being able to read German philosophers, especially the monist Ernst Haeckel.

Accordingly, since this a course in how to read German at a complex level, there will be a strong emphasis on grammar, and the vocabulary will be selected primarily from Haeckel's die Weltraethsel

We are using Lange's New German Method  (Clarendon, 1876), which is available free online and is from the same era as the main author that the student wishes to read.

Here is a tentative syllabus, which is certainly far from definite and will be adjusted in accord with how things work out.

1. Declining the Definite Article and Several Types of Nouns.

a. The Alphabet and Pronunciation. (Make sure that he is doing it right.)

b. Introduction to gender, case, and number.

b. The Definite Article (to be memorized).

c. Paradigms of various types of noun (to be memorized).

d. Nominative forms of the personal pronoun and the present indicative conjugation of Sein.

2. Composing simple sentences.

a. Quiz on declension of nouns and the definite article.

b. Noun-vocabulary from Haeckel that follows the patterns already learned.

c. Review of the present indicative of Sein.

d. The Indefinite Article.

e. Use of predicate nouns.

f. Use of predicate adjectives.

g. Introduction to adjective-vocabulary (to be memorized).

h. Variations of word-order in a simple sentence.

i. Introduction to the present indicative of Haben (to be memorized).

j. Use of nouns with the definite article as direct objects.

3. Possessive Pronouns.

4. Present and Imperfect of Regular Verbs (including Haben).

5. The perfect tense.
a. Formation of Perfect and Pluperfect tenses of Regular Verbs (with Haben).

b. Formation of Perfect and Pluperfect tenses with Sein.

6. Prepositions

a. with the Accusative.

b. with the Dative.

c. with the Genitive.

c. Prepositions that take Dative or Accusative.

7. Conjugation of Irregular Verbs.

8. Full Declension of Personal Pronouns.

9. Conjugation and uses of Werden (future tense).

10. Contractions of prepositions with the Definite Article.

11. Adjectives used attributively (big topic) with ("new declension") or without ("old declension") the definite article.

12. Adjectives with the Indefinite Article ("mixed declension").

13. Comparative forms of adjectives.

14. Irregular Verbs of the First Class.

15. Irregular Verbs of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th classes.

16. Irregular Verbs of the 5th and 6th classes.

17. Irregular Verbs of the 7th class.

18. The Infinitive.

19. Participles.

20. The Potential Verbs (the six Modal Auxiliaries).

21. Separable Compound Verbs.

22. Inseparable Compound Verbs.

23. Use of the Article.

24. Personal and Possessive Pronouns.

25. Indefinite and Interrogative Pronouns.

26. Indirect discourse.

27. Dependent Word-Order.

28. Demonstrative and Relative Pronouns.

29. Reflexive Verbs.

30. Verbs that take Genitive and Dative Objects.

31. The Passive Voice.

32. Imperative, Subjunctive, and Conditional.

33. Cardinal Numbers and Ordinal Numbers.