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Mark Twain
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Die schreckliche deutchtsche Sprache

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  503 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Mark Twain speaks about his experience about learning german and a few improvements that he would make to this language.
Published 1996 (first published 1880)
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Though the book is really funny and entertaining it is hard not to contradict. Twain’s complaint against the inventor of the German language shows that he never had to learn his own language like I did.

Klar ist das Buch komisch und unterhaltsam,, aber ich kann doch nicht widerstehen, ihm zu widersprechen. Twains Angriffe gegen den Erfinder der deutschen Sprache lassen deutlich erkennen, dass er seine eigene Sprache nie selber (richtig) lernen musste.

Admittedly: Der-die-das instead of the-the-th
I love my mother tounge. This essay dwells on all those little absurdities that make it so loveable. If you learn German, read it, you will find a soulmate in your difficulties. If you are German, read it, it makes you feel grateful that you don't have to learn it... ;-)
Jun 27, 2015 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Germans and learners of the German
Depending on your knowledge of German or your interest in learning it you may find this piece hilarious, repelling, or attractive and compelling. Either way it's a good read and I was ROFL while, (well, after) I read it.

Online Versions (PDF)

English: The Awful German Language

German: Die fürchterliche deutsche Sprache
Arthur Thomas
One of the funniest essays ever written.
Soobie's heartbroken
I really don't know which language I should write this in. The edition I've read was bilingual and I took the chance to savor some German with a useful facing-page translation. In addition, it should be easier writing about German grammar in German... To settle things once and for all, you'll find an English Review below the German one.


Dank GR habe ich dies Büchlein entdeckt. Ich wusste nicht, dass Mark Twain versuchte, Deutsch zu lernen. Seiner Meinung nach ist Deutsch eine Sprache, die
Malsam  - ملسم
للقراءة مرة ثانية ... بعد البدء بدراسة اللغة

"A little learning makes the whole world kin".

لا أدري إن كان هذا صحيحا بالنسبة للغة الالمانية :)

فكما يقول مارك توين في كتابه، إن كان من الممكن لشخص موهوب دراسة اللغة الانجليزية في 30 ساعة والفرنسية في 30 يوم، إذن الالمانية ستأخذ 30 عاما !!!
هذا وأنه يعتبر قراءة صحيفة المانية لغير الالمان شيء مستحيل !!
كما أنه ينصحنا بالتخلي عن اتخاذ صديق الماني لأن ذلك سيربكنا !!
كثيرة هي التعقيدات في اللغة (تشابه الصوت والشكل وإختلاف المعنى، طول الكلمات
المرعب، ح
Mms Mamdouh Al Shamy
I really enjoyed it.
Mark grasped the several points concerning the difficulty and awkwardness of the German language from English speaker in a tremendously funny way.
Confession: I love everything German: The language, history, literature and all

BUT I should say:

There will not be a book better than this to describe the German Language , concise yet very clean and to the point and in a funny way,.

I’ve been studying German for about 2 years and I seriously could be put words to express the difficulties I face while leaning it better than Mark’s words.

He was able to pinpoint the areas that make the language so complicated. I personally have been suffering wit
David Campbell
Slam-dunk the funniest book I have ever read... It's more like an essay, but you'll miss so very much of the humor in this brilliant read if you haven't TRULY attempted to master the language. I'm not talking about the casual traveler who knows how to say "Ein Pils, bitte..." If you're a bona fide member of an English speaking country and have grappled with that hyper-complex, rule-bound, and bi-polar b*tch known as the German language (I think Twain calls it the same epithet at one point), and ...more
Nov 10, 2009 Ruby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I did really enjoy reading it, but! I think it's funnier when you are English, because we have some of the weird construction things they have in German in Dutch too. I also don't agree with limiting German to the words "Zug", "Schlag" and "also" even though it would be nice. And I also wouldn't like it if the Dativ would be thrown away, because I like that case. (But the Genitiv is my favourite) Tale of the fishwise and its sad fate made me laugh out loud!
Prattle On, Boyo
Jul 18, 2013 Prattle On, Boyo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Prattle On, by: Movies, music, tech, sun, sand, surf, mt. biking.
Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen. Alterthumswissenschaften.
Kinderbewahrungsanstalten. Unabhängigkeitserklärungen.
Wiedererstellungbestrebungen. Waffenstillstandsunterhandlungen.

But Schlag & Zug sums up just about everything you need to know in German.

That and playing Wolfenstein.


Mark Twain's "The Awful German Language" is an awesome read. Link to full text.
I loved it. I read it while in a plane and other passengers ( German btw) were puzzled and at times annoyed because i could not help laughing out loud. I am not an english native speaker but i could feel the pain of Mr. Twain. A fun read and totally recommended for those learning, or struggling, with the German language. Thanks Mario for the gift.
I want to thank Elvira for bringing this lovely piece of cathartic literature into my life. I loved it from beginning to end!
Misery loves company. Cathartic read for those struggling to learn this very challenging language. Only a few of the examples were a little dated and clouded the point. I laughed out loud at some of his extreme opinions and suggestions around language reform. This quote summed up my 2.5 years (and counting) experience learning German - "... a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronunciation) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years. If [German] r ...more
Dec 28, 2014 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humor, Twain lovers
Recommended to Jason by: Gutenberg Project
Dammit, Twain. Yesterday you steered me away from reading anything by James Fenimore Cooper, at least for a while. Today my zeal to learn German one day, which is something I've wanted to do for about 20 years and just haven't gotten around to yet, is greatly lessened. Between this and Jerome K. Jermoe's take on German which I read a couple of weeks ago in Three Men in a Boat, (“I don't understand German myself. I learned it at school, but forgot every word of it two years after I had left, and ...more
A short read that you can get through in just a couple of hours. I thoroughly enjoyed it because it is not only humorous, but quite true. I am sure it is of more use and greater enjoyment to those that have studied the German language for at least a certain amount of time. I have studied it off on and for years, so I was at one time just as frustrated by it as Twain was. I assume many, if not all languages have those little idiosyncrasies to adapt to, and German is interesting in all the ways th ...more
Craig Williams
Much to my surprise, I enjoyed this brief essay, or rather full blown attack, on the German language by Mark Twain. I should have known better than to doubt Twain by now, but I just wasn't sure the subject of German would make for an entertaining, or even intellectually stimulating, read. I know nothing about the German language, except that it sounds angry all the time, but I actually learned something by reading this, such as: did you know that Germans capitalize all nouns? Did you know that t ...more
Gifted to me by a German couchsurfer, this book would have been way funnier if I knew German but I still enjoyed the quick funny read about the ridiculousness of the language (from an English speaker's perspective of course). I can relate because about once every French class I think "this language is stoopid."

I feel that I should note to complete strangers that I speak fluent Spanish so I'm not a complete philistine hating on other languages...just frustrated.
Frank Thun
Me and grammar? Hate it. just cant.

But Mark Twain is such a witty man, had to read it and was richly awarded.

Yes, he tried to learn german and here is what he experienced. So i know, that Mark and I got something in common. I never could apply grammar rules the german language. Hated it in School. Such a definance of logic. I just ignored it. And he too. On to better things!
This book describes Mark Twain's view of the German language. In the beginning of the book, there were some funny insights, which I could relate to, because I am still learning German. However, as the book went on, there wasn't much that impressed me. I didn't agree with some of his conclusions or recommendations. At the end I was glad it was a short book. Perhaps if you have just started learning German, you would like it a lot more.
Mayar Magdi
i loved this .. this a very funny book by mark twain and a pretty short read too it only took me an hour to finish
in it he enlists some of the reasons learning german can be a real challenge
he made note that there's acase where you add an e after words and this i had no idea about
Tom King
In college I had to take two years of a foreign language. I should have taken Spanish, living, as I did in Texas, but there was this girl of German descent and she knew a few words of the language from her grandmother and I wanted to whisper sweet German nothings in her ear.

So I chose German. Some of the words looked almost like English so I thought, "How hard can it be?"

I should have read Twain's essay. You have to read it with that Hal Holbrook Southern accent. If you want to listen to it, the
Thom Swennes
Brimming with country humor, The Awful German Language by Mark Twain is guaranteed to leave almost everyone in stitches. The possible exceptions could be those that use this language in their daily life. In all honesty I must admit that Twain looked at this language as an English (American) speaking person with the attitude that all languages must conform to it. I have read similar narratives criticizing languages (English and Dutch) and many humorous truisms but the Clements’ homespun logic add ...more
Das ist sehr gut! Foi um livro muito divertido e interessante de ler...e não me "afastou" do Alemão,mesmo com as suas difíceis particularidades! :p "I would rather decline two drinks than a German adjective!" (Mark Twain)
Marwa  Errayes
wo war dieses Buch bevor ich die Absicht habe,Deutsch zu lernen. :D

i'm stuck with this language,,i love it but i can't use it properly ,,i need a lot to learn
"...a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years." So true!
Nargiz Alizade
It was good to know that i m not the only who has a hard time to understand some grammatik stuff in german. I love this language despite difficulties.
Mohammed Al-bulushi
Mark Twain's roast of German language :)

This is a little book ( a very long essay in fact) by mark twain about his suffrage with German language learning

Ironically, he wrote this is in German language. with his usual wit and sarcasm, Twain explains how how arduous task is to lean German with all its declinations,
long complex words and how he lost 3 teachers during his long course of learning:-)
Although I definitely agreed with a lot of the difficulties that the author had with German, I found his assumption that English is a nearly perfect language that other languages should compare themselves with more than a bit irritating. His insistence on using English words in his German speech was nearly enough to make me put down the book for good, as it is something I get more than enough of when I talk to native English speakers.
Hilariously wry. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying! Wonderful
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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #2) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #1) The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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