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LESSON NOTES

Absolute Beginner S3 #13


Getting Quizzed in Germany

CONTENTS
2 German
2 English
2 Vocabulary
3 Sample Sentences
4 Vocabulary Phrase Usage
5 Grammar
7 Cultural Insight

# 13
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GERMAN

1. Frank: Okay... Entweder komme ich aus China oder ich wurde hier
geboren oder ich spreche flieend Englisch und Spanisch.

2. Kate: Schwierig! Ich glaube, du sprichst flieend Englisch und Spanisch.

3. Frank: Falsch! Du weit doch, ich spreche nur wenig Englisch!

4. Kate: Okay, dann vielleicht erstens.

5. Frank: Richtig! Meine Eltern sind sterreicher, aber sie wohnen schon seit
vielen Jahren in China.

ENGLISH

1. Frank: Okay...I'm either from China, or I was born here, or I speak fluent
English and Spanish.

2. Kate: Difficult! I believe you speak English and Spanish fluently.

3. Frank: Incorrect! You know, I speak only a little English.

4. Kate: Okay, then maybe the first one.

5. Frank: Correct! My parents are Austrian, but they've lived in China for
many years.

VOCABULARY

Ge r man English C lass Ge nde r

entweder...oder either...or expression

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viel much, a lot adjective; adverb

Eltern parents noun feminine

was what pronoun

falsch wrong adjective; adverb

glauben to believe verb

vielleicht maybe adverb

conjunction,
also so expression

flowing, fluent,
flieend fluently adverb

Mal time noun neuter

SAMPLE SENTENCES

En tw e d e r g e h e i ch i n s Ki n o o d e r D i e Au to s m a ch e n vi e l L rm .
z u r Pa rty.
The cars are making a lot of noise.
Either Ill go to the cinema, or Ill go to the
party.

Vi e l e Stu d e n te n si n d a rm . Me i n e El te rn si n d i m Mo m e n t n i ch t
da.
Many students are poor.
My parents aren't there at the moment.

Wa s i st d a s? D i e se r Sa tz i st fa l sch . So l l i ch i h n
ko rri g i e re n ?
What is this?
This sentence is wrong. Shall I correct it?

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Es f l l t m i r sch w e r, d i r z u g l a u be n . Ich g l a u be e r spri ch t m i t e i n e m
Akz e n t, a u ch w e n n i ch n i ch t w e i ,
I find it difficult to believe you.
w o d i e se r h e rko m m t.

I do believe he speaks with an accent,


though I am not sure where it is from.

Vi e l l e i ch t sp te r. So i st d a s a l so .

Maybe later. Ah, so it is.

Ich m ch te n i ch t g e h e n , a l so bl e i be J a , fl i e e n d .
i ch .
Yes, I speak fluently.
I don't want to go, so I stay.

We l ch e Spra ch e n spre ch e n Si e N ch ste s Ma l w i rd a l l e s a n d e rs.


fl i e e n d ?
Next time it will be completely different.
In which languages are you a fluent
speaker?

VOCABULARY PHRASE USAGE

Al so
This is a commonly used word in German that you are likely to hear a lot. It's the German
equivalent of "so" when you're presenting a logical conclusion. It is also a nice way to move
the conversation on to another topic. In this sense, its main usage is verbal, as an interjection
in conversation. For example, Also, woher kommst du? ("So, where are you from?").

Fl i e e n d
Flieend acts as an adjective and an adverb in German. Its literal meaning is "flowing," as in
ein flieender Strom .

1. Im flieenden Bach....
"In the flowing river."

2. Im flieenden Bach leben Krebse.


"There are crabs in the flowing stream."

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However, another common usage for this word is with the meaning "fluent," with reference to
language.

For example:

1. Er spricht flieend Deutsch.


"He speaks fluent German."

2. Sie spricht vier Sprachen, flieend.


"She speaks four languages, fluently."

Vi e l
The various forms and uses of viel, meaning "much," "many," or "a lot of," and its antonym
group wenig, meaning "(a) little," "(a) few," or "not many," are broadly similar. Both occur as
determiners, pronouns, or adverbs. Both have alternative uninflected and inflected forms that
determiners or adjectives would have, too. In certain constructions and uses, the uninflected
forms (e.g., viel) are more usual, while in other constructions, the inflected is used without a
difference in meaning.

Adjectives following inflected viele and wenige in the plural usually have strong endings.

GRAMMAR

Th e Fo cu s o f th i s L e sso n Is Ma ste ri n g th e C o n stru cti o n En tw e d e r...Od e r a n d


Pro n o u n ci n g th e G e rm a n C H .
En tw e d e r ko m m e i ch a u s C h i n a ...
"Ei th e r I' m fro m C h i n a ..."

En tw e d e r...o d e r

Entweder...oder means "either...or." Typically, the subject of the sentence will follow entweder,
as is exemplified below. However, another usage of entweder...oder is to have the verb follow
`.

For example:

1. Entweder er wird entlassen, oder er findet gar keine Anstellung.


"Either he is dismissed, or he doesn't get a job at all."

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The alternative version of this, in which the verb follows entweder, is as follows:

Entweder wird er entlassen, oder er findet gar keine Anstellung.

Conversely, weder....noch means "neither...nor" and is grammatically structured in the same


way as entweder...oder.

For example:

1. Er liest weder Bcher noch Zeitungen.


"He reads neither books nor newspapers."

2. Ich habe weder seinen Brief bekommen noch habe ich auf andere Weise etwas von
ihm gehrt.
"I've neither received his letter, nor heard from him in any other way."

However, these constructions have an official edge to them. Therefore, useful alternatives
are the following:

Er liest keine Bcher und auch keine Zeitungen.

Ich habe seinen Brief nicht bekommen und ich habe auch auf andere Weise nichts von ihm
gehrt.

Please note that in the weder...noch construction, the two words must always accompany one
another in the sentence. That's to say that noch cannot be used on its own in the sense of
"nor" without a preceding weder. However, there is a way of using one word in German to
express this without a preceding "neither" or "or" preceded by a negative, which is by using
und auch nicht / kein.

G e rm a n Pro n u n ci a ti o n G u ttu ra l C H .

Try to get a feel for the German language in terms of listening and pronunciation. Hopefully,
you've also practised speaking German yourself by imitating the lines of our dialogues. This
technique is going to help you immensely. If you haven't started doing this yet, start now! In
particular, it's time to focus on a particular sound in German that is unique to Germanic
languagesthe guttural CH. This CH usually gives people the most trouble.

The rule is that if the CH comes after A, O, or U, then it's pronounced raspily, as in the words
noch and brauchen. This is because A, O, and U are what we call dark vowels; they are
pronounced in the back of the mouth, close to your throat, so the CH that comes after them is
also pronounced in the back. In fact, this CH comes straight out of your throat. It doesn't even

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matter how you widely you open your mouth or how you position your teeth and tongue-the
CH is formed way before the air even hits those.

By contrast, the CH that comes after all other vowels (E, I, , , and ) is pronounced softly
and is produced further to the front of the mouth. To pronounce this correctly, start from the /y/
sound, as in "year." Then, keep your tongue and mouth in the exact same position and try to
blow some air through them to release the sound. Practice this a lot because this kind of CH
comes up in vital words such as ich and nicht. In the Learning Center at
GermanPod101.com, you can find some tools to help you perfect your pronunciation.

Okay, one last thing. Let's talk about the CH that's at the beginning of words. How is this
supposed to be pronounced, considering it doesn't follow a vowel? Well, after a dark vowel
(A, O, U), it's pronounced like "K." After any other vowel, however, you can choose how you
want to pronounce it. Take the word China ("China") for example, which appears several
times in this lesson's dialogue. Some will pronounce this using a soft CH, as in ich. Others
will pronounce it with a simple SH sound. And finally, there are some that use a K sound. All
of these variations are correct. I imagine you'll want to choose either the SH or the K-no need
to make things difficult for yourself!

CULTURAL INSIGHT

Fo re i g n L a n g u a g e s i n G e rm a n y

In Germany, English is a mandatory subject at school for at least six years. It's also
increasingly present in primary schools and kindergartens. However, the quality of instruction
varies a lot, and many older people won't remember any of their English ten years after they
have gone to school, unless they have had to use it often in the meantime. Hence, if you
want to ask a German something in English, your best bet is a student or a businessman.
Hotel clerks should know English, but sometimes they don't. However, nowadays many
younger people are able to speak English quite well, and they do not forget it after leaving
school, either; they continue to use it to stay connected with friends from overseas and also to
keep track of TV shows and books of British and American origin.

Other than English, French is the most commonly studied foreign language, followed by
Latin. However, these wouldn't normally be studied instead of English; rather, they are
studied as a second foreign language. In Eastern Germany, Russian used to be the most
common foreign language. If you intend to go to university, you will have to study two foreign
languages for at least five years each in high school, which is supposed to give you fluent
command of them. In some schools, you have the option of studying up to four foreign
languages, but few will do that. Foreign language classes, once chosen, cannot usually be
dropped easily, and they will affect your mark average, so you have to be committed to

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become fluent in the languages you have chosen.

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