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Mark Twain
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Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  700 Ratings  ·  98 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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ausont I think it's meant to be sarcastic, and probably has to do with some German stereotypes. It could also mean that, compared to English, the complexity…moreI think it's meant to be sarcastic, and probably has to do with some German stereotypes. It could also mean that, compared to English, the complexity of German is much more to the author, and he is in awe, but just endearingly teases about it. German is one of my favourite languages. It had been one of my majors in high school for years. I've just recently started revising it, though I think I chill too much, and it's going jovially slowly as I still read/write in English most of the time such as this. Sorry to hear about your imprisonment, hope you're enjoying life in NYC.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 27, 2010 Georg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 04, 2008 Ines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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... ;-)
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Now I know why my German is so bad! Thanks to Mark Twain I now see it is not my fault! Seriously - a long lost gem of humor that I was glad to find.
Jun 27, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 13, 2011 Steffi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Großartig, wie Mark Twain die Macken der deutschen Sprache zerlegt, auch für Muttersprachler in den meisten Fällen gut nachvollziehbar.
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
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

A culture as rich, intelligent, and fascinating as Germany will of course have a language just as complex and sharing the roots of many Indo-Aryan languages such as the ever-confusing, all-conjugative Sanskrit.

Reading this short essay, I found myself nodding in agreement all throughout. That Dative case German seems to love is a pain in the kriff! Those conjugates? Ohmygodtheydonteven makealickofsense. I really have no idea how the language evolved to be like this, but Twain showed us
Arthur Thomas
May 28, 2012 Arthur Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the funniest essays ever written.
Girish Jadhav
As an "Ausländer" in Germany, I find this hilarious. I liked some of the suggestions made by the author, but I'm sure that won't be happening anytime soon.
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.
Loved it! I was laughing at every turn of the page. I want to say that Mark Twain's intention of writing this book is not to belittle German language but to let others know how unnecessarily complicated the language is for a foreigner to learn. And after reading the book, I quite agree that German would be hard to learn compared to other languages. Mark Twain gives an awful lot of good and funny examples to make this point. I will put some examples from the book here and you'll understand:

To co
Sep 22, 2013 Asma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: learn-german
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
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
David Campbell
Jan 05, 2014 David Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Prattle On, Boyo
Jul 18, 2013 Prattle On, Boyo rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Nov 10, 2009 Ruby rated it really liked it
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!
Jul 29, 2016 Lily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an English native who's lived in Germany (and even Heidelberg! I feel special :))basically all her life, this was hilarious. This was way better than Huck Finn, why did Twain write novels when he can write this? Also, funnily enough one of his wishes for the German language, getting rid of the Dative, has kinda come true over the years.
Feb 03, 2013 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 19, 2015 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015
I found this piece to be a fun elbow in the ribs at the German language. I laughed until I cried. As I read it I kept thinking what it would look like if English weren't Mark Twains' mother tongue and he were writing about the English language. That would be quite hilarious as well I am sure.
Mayar Magdi
Jul 18, 2014 Mayar Magdi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2016 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a funny (if you like dry humor) explanation of the German language. I would recommend it to people learning the language because I think they know exactely what Twain is talking about ;)
Mark Jones
Sep 06, 2016 Mark Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious and very much relevant discussion of how terrible and confusing the German language is. Some utterly brilliant, quality 'Twain here!
Jun 25, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to thank Elvira for bringing this lovely piece of cathartic literature into my life. I loved it from beginning to end!
Nov 22, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May 16, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humor, Twain lovers
Recommended to Jason by: Gutenberg Project
Shelves: mark-twain, 2014, humor
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
Heidi El-Wakeel
Feb 16, 2017 Heidi El-Wakeel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It all started when i was reading "The Garden of the prophet" by: Gibran Khalil and i noticed that he refer to the word "sea" as she , so i wondered why and i started searching for the gender of languages ,this book fell in my hand while searching and of course it turns out that this book is irrelevant to the subject i was looking for but i read it anyway ,i consider this book a humor one ,it gave me some good laughs as it is mocking the German language and its formation alongside with some advi ...more
Erika Nederveld
Dec 17, 2016 Erika Nederveld rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is recommended for any Germany student that has reached at least the third year. This book is hilarious! I highly recommend this book to all German majors.
Not as funny or insightful as I was led to expect. Pity.
Simona GB
Dec 15, 2016 Simona GB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All foreigners who struggle or struggled with learning German must read this book! They will have such a self-esteem boost: It's not you, it's the German language!

"An average sentence, in a German newspaper, is a sublime and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column; it contains all the ten parts of speech - not in regular order, but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any dictionary - six or seven words compacte
Stephanie R.
Nov 04, 2016 Stephanie R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, deutsch, funny
Just reread this humorous essay on the quirks of German. Lots of great quotes, and it's all true.

On putting the verb at the end of the sentence: "You observe how far that verb is from the reader's base of operations; well, in a German newspaper they put their verb away over on the next page; and I have heard that sometimes after stringing along the exciting preliminaries and parentheses for a column or two, they get in a hurry and have to go to press without getting to the verb at all."

On tryin
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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
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“There are ten parts of speech and they are all troublesome.” 9 likes
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