Friday, February 10, 2017

The Very Basic Guide to German

Yesterday I’ve looked at the links to other very basic guides and thought, something is missing. And then it dawned to me: I’ve never written a very basic guide to German. German is easy, let’s say easier than Russian. It only has four cases and not 6 or more. It is spoken as it is written unlike English or French. Yes, the umlauts and the H/CH are difficult and grammar is tricky. Nevertheless, you don’t need much grammar to be able to speak a couple of phrases.
German (Deutsch) is mainly spoken in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, but also in Italy (South Tyrol), Belgium, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. And you will find clusters in South America (like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay), South Africa, (South Africa and Namibia) as well as the United States of America and Israel.

German uses the 26 standard letters, the umlauts ä, ö and ü, and the eszett (sharp s), ß. And German has the /x/ sound, like the Scottish loch, it also is written ch and appears after dark vowels or diphthongs like a, au, o, u. Loch, German for hole or cavity, is pronounced identically to the Scottish Loch, whereas Licht (light) sounds light and not like K. I hope you are at least a little bit confused. The international phonetic alphabet gives the ch sound in ich (I), Licht (light), nicht (not) as ç. Th is tricky as German doesn’t have the English digraph th, sometimes it comes from a Greek loan word and is pronounced like t, if it is an English loan word, you’ll hear both th and s.

Thank you – Danke
You’re welcome – Nichts zu danken
Yes – Ja
No – Nein
Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch?
Please – Bitte
Excuse me – Entschuldigung
Sorry – Entschuldigung (sorry is also often used)
Good morning – Guten Morgen
Good day – Guten Tag
Good evening – Guten Abend
Good night – Guten Nacht
Hello – Hallo
Goodbye – Auf Wiedersehen
All right / O.K. - gut
How are you? – Wie geht es Ihnen? Wie geht es Dir? (informal)
I’m well! – Mir geht es gut
I would like to buy ... – ich möchte ... kaufen
How much is it? – Wieviel kostet es?
I don’t know – ich weiß es nicht
I don’t understand – ich verstehe nicht
Where is – Wo ist
Where is the toilet? – Wo sind die Toiletten?
I'm lost – Ich habe mich verirrt
What is your name? – Wie heißen Sie? Wie heißt Du? (informal)
My name is LMK – Mein Name ist LMK
Mr, Mrs, Ms – Herr, Frau, Fräulein [hardly being in use anymore]
Left – links
Right – rechts
I need a doctor – Ich benötige einen Arzt

Please blame any mistakes on me.


Links for more Basic Guides:
The Very Basic Guide to Turkmenian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz


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