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Posts Tagged ‘German’

Tongue Twisters

Being a language teacher, I enjoy having fun with language. Recently in one of my classes, something came up about tongue twisters. I thought I'd post a few of my favorites today in English, and then for those who are interested in several fun ones in French and German.

(These are the most fun when you try to pronounce them out loud, saying the shorter ones several times.)

Mr. See owned a saw. And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw. Now, See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw before Soar saw See, which made Soar sore. Had Soar seen See's saw before See sawed Soar's seesaw, See's saw would not have sawed Soar's seesaw. So See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw. But it was sad to see Soar so sore just because See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

Unique New York

Toy Boat


Now let's try a some in French where tongue twisters are called des virelangues = tongue turners. I will translate them into English.
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Random Humor

My readers and students send me some of the funniest stuff, knowing what my sense of humor is like. One of the problems is that so many things wouldn't fit into any one topic for a blog post. So the topic of this one is randomness to allow me to share some of the great things I've received lately.

This basketball player must have been forewarned, because now he's four-armed.

Forewarned Is Four-Armed

I've been told that the Wizard of Oz is only of the most universally recognizable pieces of Americana. During my 40 years of teaching, I have had drop many bits of humor from my repertoire because my students no longer recognized them, and the time required to explain the humor was simply not profitable. I can attest that most of my American students still respond to some of the most oblique references to the Wizard of Oz. Here's some humor about the movie most of Americans will get ... I think....
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Are You What You Eat?

Some years back, there was an ad on TV for Nutri-Grain bars. The gist of the ad, without coming out and saying it in so many words, was — you eat it, you wear it! Or rather you are what you eat. The makers of the ad superimposed over various parts of people's anatomies some recognizable food items in a creative manner to illustrate their idea. One such person was a man with a donut around his waist trying and failing to get through a turnstile because of his donut. Another was a woman walking along with cinnamon rolls on her posterior. You can view the ad on YouTube. I've done a screen shot of the one segment I'm talking about for you to see below:

What does that have to do with today's blog post? Well, my German students have begun learning German irregular verbs. In German the third person one eats (man isst) sounds just like one is (man ist). Only when written are the verb forms distinguishable. I told my students to try to imagine the horror of learning that the person they were talking to is saying man isst, was man ist = you eat what you are, instead of the other way around. No German would say that, of course, since that would be advancing cannabilism. But in writing, spelling can be a life and death matter!

Back in 1998 when I was sending my "instant vacations" by e-mail, (see about page) I did an iv on cannibals. Of course, cannibalism is a deplorable practice, and there's nothing funny about what cannibals do. So the humor in these jokes lies in the puns and the other plays on words, rather than the topic itself. Please don't "chew me out" or "bite my head off" for posting these cannibal jokes. Just groan, delete, or cheerfully share them — how ever it is that you react. 🙂

Here goes....

A traveler met up with a cannibal who was practicing spear throwing at targets. The traveler noticed that the cannibal was very accurate no matter if he threw with his left or right hand. At seeing this the traveler thought out loud, "Boy, I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous like that." The cannibal turned quickly and said, "I'll take it!"
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Fun with German

Anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language knows that the process is a mixture of excitement and discouragement, fun and frustration, and is ultimately plenty of hard work. I realize that most of my French and German students are a "captive audience" — they have a language requirement for whatever they are actually majoring in. Depending on their major, the requirement is anywhere from one semester to four semesters. My goal is to make the process as enjoyable and rewarding as possible for my students, mixing in enough humor and fun to make the necessary work less tedious, and to make some of the linguistic oddities stick in the students' minds.

When you learn another language, you learn things about your own language — things you probably would never learn any other way. I love to witness a student's realizing he or she finally understands things studied in English classes for years. It's not uncommon for someone to say, "So that is what a direct object is!" or "Oh, yeah, subject-verb agreement!" 🙂

This summer I am spending lots of time with German since I'll resume teaching that language this fall. Picking it up again after not using it much in recent years has reminded me of some of the things I enjoy most about German. Today's post pokes fun at several of those things. I've put some fairly technical stuff in this post, but stay with me — I think you'll enjoy it, even if grammar isn't on your top ten list of fun stuff to do.

I'll start off with a joke. If you've studied German, you will get it right away. If you haven't, the explanation follows.

    An American businessman goes into negotiations with a German company. The company sends over a representative, who speaks no English. The American businessman speaks no German. So he hires an interpreter. The conference goes smoothly until, at one point, the interpreter stops translating as the German is still speaking.

    The American gets impatient and asks the interpreter, "Why aren't you translating?"

    The interpreter answers, "I'm waiting for the verb."

Here's the explanation for those who have never studied German:
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Rock, Paper, Scissors

Have you ever played Rock, Paper, Scissors? It's a simple game, but I've read that there is actually strategy involved in winning. The game consists of three gestures (weapons) — rock, represented by a clenched fist, paper, represented by an open hand, with the fingers extended and touching, and scissors, represented by two fingers extended and separated.

The object of the game is to select a gesture that defeats the opponent's. The winning gestures are as follows:

Rock smashes scissors = the rock wins.
Paper covers rock = the paper wins.
Scissors cut paper = the scissors win.

If both players use the same gesture, that round is tied and the players "throw" again. Normally Rock, Paper, Scissors is played in a "best two out of three" match.

As I did some research for this post, I was surprised to learn that there is a World RPS Society website. As I said earlier, there are supposedly strategies to help you win. On the World RPS Society website there's a link on How to Beat Anyone at Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Knowing that RPS is an international phenomenon, I figured it must have a name in other languages. I found that in French it's Pierre, Papier, Ciseaux and in German it's Stein, Papier, Schere.

In case this game is new to you, I'll show several pictures to see if you remember which gesture wins.

The picture below is rock and scissors. So who wins this round?

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