Humor of German in Newspapers

Humor of German in Newspapers by Mark Twain is adapted from his book A Tramp Abroad [1880]:

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 compacted into one, without joint or seam—that is, without hyphens;

it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects, each enclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and there extra parentheses, making pens within pens: finally, all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other in the middle of the last line of it—

AFTER WHICH COMES THE VERB,

and you find out for the first time what the man has been talking about;

and after the verb—merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out—the writer shovels in "HABEN SIND GEWESEN GEHABT HAVEN GEWORDEN SEIN," or words to that effect, and the monument is finished. I suppose that this closing hurrah is in the nature of the flourish to a man's signature—not necessary, but pretty.

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. Of course, then, the reader is left in a very exhausted and ignorant state.

German books are easy enough to read when you hold them before the looking-glass or stand on your head—so as to reverse the construction—

but I think that to learn to read and understand a German newspaper is a thing which must always remain an impossibility to a foreigner.

-----






Return to Humor of Language Learners



-----

Looking for something else?

Use this search feature to find it:

Custom Search

-----




-----

Easiest Languages have thousands of words similar to English, so:

“This is The Easiest Way to Begin Learning Foreign Languages.”

Helping More People Begin Foreign Languages The Easiest Way.

-----

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!