Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

I’ve added a link to a third other site with “Theological German” in the title.  Professor JJ Niehaus  of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary has an attractive site with grammar lessons and exercises.  See link on the right sidebar under “Grammar” or click here.

I’ve been using Cue Card with my Greek class, and it is working well.  I have started creating some files of my own for German vocabulary and phrases.  I have just been using them as flash cards, but you can also add images or sound.  You may download Cue Card  here.

I use Multikey to access the Unicode Greek fonts–which are a great advantage over the old ASCII-based Greek fonts.  Palatino Linotype has an excellent Greek font built in.  Times New Roman also has a Greek Unicode font built in.  The Unicode character set is already there, built into Windows (and Mac fonts)–but you have to have a keyboard program to access them.  there is a way to do it through Windows, but Multikey makes it quick and easy to switch between fonts.

To type in German, I follow the advice Judy Redman gave here.

Next week is my spring break, and I should have time to post a couple new reading selections.


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More Embedded Clauses

The previous post had another doozy of a sentence with embedded clauses.  It helps me to graphically arrange the words in a way that shows how clauses are embedded within other clauses.  The adjective and article endings can also be tricky: -es can be neuter nominative or or genitive singular masculine or neuter; der can be nominative, genitive, or dative (depending on gender and number).  Der can also be a relative pronoun or demonstrative adjective, if its use as a definite article isn’t enough.

After you untangle the syntax, practice reading a passage like this aloud, using pauses, tone, and volume to express the syntax.

Wissenschaft in Erkenntnis

jenes in Gottes Werk gesprochenen Wortes Gottes

Wissenschaft in der Schule

der jenes Wort Gottes bezeugenden heiligen Schrift

Wissenschaft in der Bemühung

um die der (durch jenes Wort Gottes) berufenen Gemeinde

unausweichlich gestellte Wahrheitsfrage.

science in recognition of that word of God spoken in God’s work,
science in the school of the Holy Scriptures which testify to that word of God,
science in the labor for the question of truth which is inescapably placed before the community  that is called through that word of God.

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Not Hamburger sandwiches, nor Frankfurter sandwiches, but maybe some Basler sandwiches:

One of the things that makes German syntax so difficult to follow is the way a long string of words (many clauses, in fact) can be sandwiched between two words that relate closely to each other.

Especially common are what I call “article sandwiches.”  In English we normally sandwich an adjective between the definite article and its noun: the man, the big man, the big, bad wolf.  We don’t usually, however, sandwich prepositional phrases or relative clauses between a noun and its article.  German writers, it seems, love to do this.

We don’t say things like, “the in-the-moon man” or “the whom-everyone-loves man.”  Those would make perfectly good German.  Observe how many words intervene between “die” and “Bekanntschaft” in the following example—and how many words between “dem” and “Gott.”

Das Eine, worauf es ankommt, ist die nie selbstverständliche, nie schon vorhandene, von keinem Theologen in keiner geistigen oder geistlichen Tasche schon mitgebrachte Bekanntschaft mit dem von den Göttern aller anderen Theologien so wunderlich verschiedenen Gott des Evangeliums.

There are several thoughts embedded in this one long sentence.  They could be broken down something like this:

  • Das wichtigste Ding ist die Bekanntschaft mit dem Gott des Evangeliums.
  • Dieser Gott ist so wunderlisch verschieden von den Göttern aller anderen Theologien.
  • Aber die Bekanntschaft mit diesem Gott ist nie selbstverständliche, nie schon vorhandene.
  • Kein Theologe kann sie  in einer geistigen oder geistlichen Tasche (so zu sagen) schon mitbringen.
  • Why are the thoughts combined into one sentence?  Doing so better shows how the ideas are related to each other.  Moreover, it allows a certain climactic conclusion; in this case leaving the focus on the words “Gott des Evangeliums.”

    On the other hand, maybe Mark Twain was right. . .

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    The University of Iowa has a really nice online phonetics tutorial for English, German, and Spanish.  Just click on the German flag, and you can see a diagram of the speech organs, along with a closeup of a native speaker, and audio for the individual sounds of the language, and representative words.  Thanks to my student Megan Baehr for finding this resource.

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    More Grammar

    For those of you who are not attending the SBL in San Diego . . .

    I’ve added three pages under “Nouns and Adjectives.” One is called “‘Der’ and ‘Ein’ Words”and the second one is aptly labeled “Adjective Endings.” The third is “Adjective Chart.” With provocative titles like that, who can resist?

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    I have added a new page on noun endings to the Grammar section, called “Nouns 4.” Stay tuned for a page on adjectives.

    I also realized I got carried away with three categories for Conversation. It has been simplified; there is now just one. Give it a try!

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    Nouns 3 (Inflection on a Budget)

    I get the feeling that German wanted to be like Greek, with four cases, two numbers, and three genders for the nouns. The problem is there weren’t enough German endings to go around; so the language made do with what it had. The 24 functions of the definite article are supplied by the 6 forms: der, die, das, dem, den, and des. Noun endings are basically limited to –(e)s, e, er, and (e)n. Review the chart of the definite article.

    This means that, for example, you can’t really identify the Gender, Number, and Case of the form der or den, for example, by itself. Once you know the Gender of the noun it precedes, you can eliminate possible choices from the other Genders. That is why it is essential to memorize the Gender of the noun (or better, just learn the definite article with it) when learning vocabulary.

    Review again the sentences below, and notice how the Gender of the noun, and whether the noun is singular or plural, determines the case of the article:

    Der Mann sieht den Sohn des Königs in dem Garten

    Die Frau sieht die Tochter der Königin in der Kirche

    Das Kind sieht das Lamm des Schafs auf dem Feld

    Die Männer sehen die Söhne der Könige in den Gärten

    Die Frauen sehen die Töchter der Königinnen in den Kirchen

    Die Kinder sehen die Lämmer der Schafe auf den Feldern

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