Humor of Pronouns in German

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

Personal pronouns are a fruitful nuisance in this (German) language,

and should have been left out.

For instance,

the same sound, SIE,

means YOU,

and it means SHE,

and it means HER,

and it means IT,

and it means THEY,

and it means THEM.

Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six—

and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that.

But mainly, think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey.

This explains why, whenever a person says SIE to me,

I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.


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