Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Communication Problems in Germanic

These are some very important phrases for surviving if you haven't got far with these languages. I've broken them down into pieces so you can see how they go together and compare. At the end, you'll get things all put together.

German
ich - I
verstehe = understand
(stehe = stand)
ich verstehe = I understand
nicht = not
Ich verstehe nicht. = I don't understand

Dutch
ik = I
begrijp = understand
(think "get a grip on")
ik begrijp = I understand
het = it
ik begrijp het = I understand it
niet = not
Ik begrijp het niet. = I don't understand.

Swedish
jag = I
vörstår = understand
(står = stand)
jag vörstår = I understand
inte = not
(scramble Du. niet)
Jag vörstår inte. = I don't understand.

German
spreche = speak
ich spreche = I speak
kein = no
Deutsch = German
Ich spreche kein Deutsch. = I don't speak any German.

Dutch
spreek = speak
ik spreek = I speak
geen = no
Nederlands = Dutch
Ik spreek geen Nederlands. - I don't speak any Dutch.

Swedish
talar = speak
(think tale-telling)
jag talar = I speak
inte = no, not
svenska = Swedish
Jag talar inte svenska. = I don't speak any Swedish.

German
Sie = you
Sie sprechen = you speak
Sprechen Sie... = Do you speak...
Englisch = English
Sprechen Sie Englisch? = Do you speak English?

Dutch
u = you
u spreekt = you speak
Spreekt u... = Do you speak...
Engels = English
Spreekt u Engels? = Do you speak English?

Swedish
du = you
du talar = you speak
Talar du... = Do you speak...
engelska = English
Talar du engelska? = Do you speak English?

Now, here are your phrases, all put together. Practice them carefully, so you can say all three in rapid succession. The best part is that once you've managed this, it won't be completely true because you're using some pretty useful structures and vocabulary here. Here's the exercise:

You've made the mistake of saying Guten Tag, Tag or Godmiddag, and been answered with a torrent of something Germanic in character. What do you say?

German: Ich verstehe nicht! Ich spreche kein Deutsch! Sprechen Sie Englisch?
Dutch: Ik begrijp het niet! Ik spreek geen Nederlands! Spreekt u Engels?
Swedish: Jag vörstår inte! Jag talar inte svenska! Talar du engelska?

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