German for Reading

There’s no sense shielding you from the awful truth. You might as well know.

German is a very difficult language to learn.

Or had you already figured that out? If you had, you are in good company: no less an American dignitary than Mark Twain agreed with you. In fact, while you’re procrastinating from learning German, you might read his brilliant essay, “The Awful German Language.”

Many academics have felt the same way. And yet, for various reasons — whether to read a source in the original, or to follow modern academic scholarship, or to pass muster before a committee — these academics have persisted in trying to teach themselves German. They have persisted despite separable prefixes, distant verbs, and the syntactical pattern Twain accurately described as “Parenthesis distemper.”

So how have these giants of academia past overcome the hurdle that is German? Some of the popular strategies of learning and practicing the language include:

  • auditing a class in the German department
  • taking a summer course in German for Reading
  • bringing a German Bible along to worship services and following the Scripture reading
  • watching films with German audio and/or subtitles
  • listening to lessons from the Pimsleur German language program
  • finding an introductory grammar text and buckling down
  • lots and lots of flashcards — pre-made or home-made

Regardless of the strategy that most appeals to you, learning a new language is likely to be a long and difficult road. At the Divinity Library, we want you to have everything you need to build good habits for studying German. So we’ve added a permanent Reserve collection for German resources. Here are the items you can borrow:

Three-hour loan:

  • Introduction to Theological German: a beginner’s course for theological students, by J. D. Manton
  • Modern Theological German: a reader and dictionary, by Helmut W. Ziefle

Two-week loan:

  • Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (HP 1), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens (HP 2), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Askaban (HP 3), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch (HP 4), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und der Orden des Phönix (HP 5), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und der Halbblutprinz (HP 6), by Joanne K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes (HP 7), by Joanne K. Rowling

Ask for any of these titles at the circulation desk to get started on (or continue!) your German adventure. And be sure to let us know when you pass your exam!

Prost!

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