Category Archives: deutsch

Business Cards

This summer I will be on the prowl for a job. Business cards are a must. I have been toying around with having a custom card, but my designs have been boring at best. The card must be geared towards education professionals. It must reflect that I am somehow related to communications and / or German. It must show a connection with other people. Here is what I’ve got so far. Yes, the font is helvetica. 

Business Card Idea

Hmmm… Input would be nice.

Teaching Zeitgeist

German has two verbs that sound exactly the same when you use them in different ways. Today I had to explain that difference to my class.

Let us suppose we want to say “Helmut eats a cake.” That would be “Helmut isst einen Kuchen.” When used in the first-person singular form the verb “to eat” – isst – sounds exactly like the first-person singular verb “is” – ist. That one little “s” can make all the difference in the world. Therefore…

Helmut isst einen Kuchen. – Helmut eats a cake.
Helmut ist ein Kuchen. – Helmut is a cake.

Then I realized that there is little else separating cakes from humans. Both cakes and humans…

  • …are carbon based.
  • …require eggs, sugar, and oxygen.
  • …come in chocolate, vanilla, and a wide variety of flavors.
  • …celebrate birthdays and other holidays.

May the Almighty help us if the cakes learn to speak German.

[Edit] : A reader caught my nominative case error. Thanks!

Mite-y Cheesy

Milbenkäse is a type of cheese produced exclusively in the Sachsen-Anhalt village of Würchwitz. It has been produced since the Middle Ages and is distinct in that it uses mites in its production. Yes… mites. I summon thee Wikipedia!

[Milbenkäse] is placed in a wooden box containing rye flour and inhabited by Tyroglyphus casei cheese mites for at least three months. The digestive juices of the mites diffuse into the cheese and cause fermentation; the flour is added because the mites would otherwise simply eat the whole cheese instead of just nibbling away at the crust as is desired. After one month, the cheese rind turns yellow, after three months reddish-brown. Some producers, however, allow the cheese to ripen for up to one year, until it has turned black. The taste is said to be similar to that of Harzer cheese, but with a bitter note (increasing with age) and with a distinctive zesty aftertaste. Mites clinging to the cheese rind are also consumed.

Originally read here.

The Awful German Language

American author Mark Twain wrote the grippingly hilarious and sometimes sexist “The Awful German Language.” Ah, the liberation of intellect. This small excerpt deals a feature not present in English. All nouns in German are assigned a gender (male, neutral, or feminine) that effects their usage. With that bit of info masticated upon, read on…

Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it looks in print — I translate this from a conversation in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books:

Gretchen: Wilhelm, where is the turnip?
Wilhelm: She has gone to the kitchen.
Gretchen: Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?
Wilhelm: It has gone to the opera.

–Mark Twain

Ask Marx and Engels

What can a book published in 1848 tell us about the current economic difficulties plaguing our nation? Things to keep in mind from the past eight years: decline in US quality of life, unregulated economic markets, lax credit lending, war-profiteering, and mass consumerism.

It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of overproduction. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce.

-The Communist Manifesto