Wednesday, 2 December 2009

pne: A picture of a six-year-old girl (Amy)

The other day, I suggested that Amy go into the kitchen to pick a bowl for her breakfast cereal (she's pretty pick about which bowl and which spoon she wants on a given day), and she replied, "I am but so tired!".

German FTW :)

In English, you can put a word at the beginning ("But I'm so tired!") or at the end ("I'm so tired, though!"); in German, it can go either at the beginning ("Aber ich bin so müde!") or the middle ("Ich bin aber so müde!")—but the middle position (where Amy had placed it in her English sentence) sounds better to me in this case for some reason I can't put into words.

Thinking about other situations where German puts particles in the middle where English wouldn't, I came up with "Dann lese ich ein Buch." vs. "Ich lese dann ein Buch.", which means "I'll read a book, then."

This could mean two things in English: "In that case, instead of doing something else, I'll read a book" or "In that case, instead of reading something else, I'll read a book". The version in German with the particle in the middle is also ambiguous between those two meanings, but with the particle at the beginning... I just realised that one's also ambiguous. So much for that insight :)

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pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
Philip Newton

June 2015

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