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New Year’s resolutions

on January 7, 2013

I’m not a big one for resolutions. (Ever notice how many people say that?) I think this may even be the first year I’ve consciously made one. It’s not very exciting but if I don’t write something I’m never going to shift this writer’s block – which could quite fairly be called non-writer’s block by now.

So my resolution is this:

Study German for 30 minutes every day.

Yes, after living in a German-speaking environment for 8 years I have finally run out of both good reasons and poor excuses for putting it off. Study German every day… so far I’ve only missed one. Of course, my idea of studying isn’t necessarily something that would delight a college professor.
I’m actually reading Harry Potter.
Reading a book you love and know almost word for word is a surprisingly effective way of not getting bored whilst learning another language. In the past, I’ve used this technique for Spanish (Lord of the Rings) and Danish (Pride and Prejudice, and some Terry Pratchetts). Obviously you do have to have a certain level to start with – I’m borderline B1/B2 in German, and that’s definitely good enough for this.

So far I have learned that the German for “pale” is “blass”. Which seems wrong, somehow. There’s a sickly, bloated feeling to that word (to me, as a native English-speaker, you understand) that is not necessarily attached to the word “pale”. But at least I’ll remember it now.
I’ve also learned that either German has some rather odd set phrases, or the translator didn’t always quite get it. See, when Harry is telling himself “don’t rise” in response to Aunt Marge’s taunting, I doubt that the German for that is “don’t stand up”. I don’t know what it ought to be either, of course. Something fishing-related, perhaps? Which is one reason I don’t translate into German. The other reasons are that my German grammar is non-existent, and more importantly that you should never translate on a professional level into something that isn’t your mother tongue unless you are genuinely completely bilingual, which is much rarer than you might suppose.

Any rabid Harry Potter fans (people after my own heart!) may now be thinking: That’s all very well, but the real question is, why are you beginning your German Harry Potter endeavours with book three?!
To which the answer is: because that’s the one I own in German. Because it happens to be my favourite. It has Professor Lupin in it. What’s not to like about that? But don’t worry, dear reader. I’ve borrowed a copy of PS from a youthful friend, so will henceforth be proceeding in the correct order.


One response to “New Year’s resolutions

  1. Jeyna Grace says:

    All the best! Thats one way to do 😉

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