Humor of Verbs Split in German

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

The Germans have another kind of parenthesis, which they make by splitting a verb in two

and putting half of it at the beginning of an exciting chapter

and the OTHER HALF at the end of it.

Can any one conceive of anything more confusing than that?

These things are called "separable verbs."

The German grammar is blistered all over with separable verbs;

and the wider the two portions of one of them are spread apart, the better the author of the crime is pleased with his performance.

A favorite one is REISTE AB—which means DEPARTED.

Here is an example which I culled from a novel and reduced to English:

"The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED."

However, it is not well to dwell too much on the separable verbs.

One is sure to lose his temper early;

and if he sticks to the subject, and will not be warned, it will at last either soften his brain or petrify it.


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