Tips from Germany

First, my tip:

If you’re going to borrow a docking station with a keyboard when visiting Germany, you must know how to touch type and you must be intimately familiar with the locations of all the special characters you might need.

Also, be careful of capital letters and carriage returns.

In case you weren’t aware of this, although most Germans speak English, the language they prefer to type in is, oddly enough, German.

Furthermore, in case you weren’t aware, the German alphabet is not exactly the same as English.  Therefore their keyboard layout is slightly different.

The interesting thing is that the character set that your computer uses is not controlled by the keyboard.  The difference is only in the character printed on the key, the signal sent to the computer is virtually identical whether it’s a German, English or Pig Latin keyboard.  What makes the characters print differently is the language selected in your computer.

Therefore, it is perfectly OK to use a German keyboard on an American computer, you just can’t look at it while you’re typing or you’ll be reversing your Y’s and Z’s and your punctuation marks and special characters will be…um…interesting.  (Note to self:  Ask German co-workers if they refer to their keyboard layout as “QWERTZ“)

I’m a fairly experienced typist so I just followed the advice of tight rope walkers the world over and didn’t look down which served me quite well.

The only real issues are the left shift key and the enter key.  On American keyboards, they are both wider than on the German version so I kept typing strange characters when I was shooting for a capital letter on the right side of the keyboard or a carriage return.

It was interesting.  But it was nice having a full sized keyboard and monitors to use.

The other tips about Germany that I have aren’t from me:  One of my good-natured German co-workers forwarded me a pdf that was a series of excerpts from the blog of an American who works in Germany.

In the e-mail to which the pdf was attached, the co-worker commented: “there is a lot of truth in the attached”.

I looked up the blog and there’s a lot more where the excerpts came from.  In my limited experience I can’t attest to most of these assertions, but the one’s I’ve experienced seem pretty reasonable…especially the one about learning German:

Living in Germany is great, and I would recommend it to anyone. Speaking German, on the other hand, is terrible and it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, Mark Twain warned us way back in 1880 in his essay The Awful German Language not to bother with this language. There are countless reasons not to learn German, so let’s discuss a few:

He even includes a handy chart that just cleared right up[/sarcasm] one of the things that’s been giving me fits about the language:

So for every single noun out there, you need to memorize a gender as well (the are some rules for determining gender, but for every rule there are just as many exceptions as examples that fit, so you still have to memorize every single one individually). But you also need to change the article, based on the case that you are using the noun in. Let’s see what this looks like in German:

Nominative der das die die (pl.)
Accusative den das die die
Dative dem dem der den
Genitive des des der der

Now let’s translate that table into English:

Nominative the the the the (pl.)
Accusative the the the the
Dative the the the the
Genitive the the the the

Do you really want to learn a language that has 16 ways to say the word “the”?

For much, much more, start here…then click “Newer Entries” and just keep reading. 

Very entertaining, but plan on spending some time there, and keep all drinks safely away from your keyboard and monitor.  You’ve been warned.


3 thoughts on “Tips from Germany

  1. I remember all my der-die-das, den-die-das, dem-der-dem's, des-der-des's… Oh boy.
    In Vienna they truncate the usage to simplify with just des-der-des.

  2. I thought they were ditching the umlauts and eszetts and just writing them with standard characters.

    Granted my last high school German class was long ago…

  3. As a step-grandson of mine, whose mother is German and who lived in Germany most of his growing up years said, "Der, dem, das. Who cares?"

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