Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cognates and compound words

Last time I wrote that you only had a few thousand more words to learn. It is not as difficult as it sounds because of the words in English that have been taken from German. If you have seen the film Poltergeist then that is one less word that you have to learn. If you have der Rucksack on your back you know another German word. Abseiling may have started in Chamonix France, but it is a German word and you will know that abseilen means to lower with a rope.

There is something else that makes the number of German words to learn less daunting, and that is compound nouns. If you know that die Straße then you might be able to guess that das Straßenschild is a street sign. I mentioned some compound nouns with weg last time. So learn weg and you can have a good guess at many other words. When I was at school in the 1970s I remember two compound words. You would know them if you know the word for black, forest, cherry and gateau. Even if you know one or two of these words there is a good chance that you would understand Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. You can hog the conversation if you know these words.

Bis bald

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