German for foreigners / Deutsch für Ausländer

This is only for those who understand German. desbladet links to a comedy German lesson by Loriot (Vicco von Bülow), whose 80th birthday is sometime around now.

bq. SIE. Wir besitzen ein Kraftfahrzeug. Mein Mann faehrt mit der Bahn ins Buero.

bq. ER. Ich bin 37 Jahre alt und wiege 81 Kilo.

bq. SIE. Viktor ist fuenf Jahre aelter und ein Kilo schwerer. Sein Zug fahrt morgens um 7 Uhr 36.

bq. ER. Mein Onkel wiegt 79 Kilo. Sein Zug faehrt um 6 Uhr 45.

But I suppose Ionesco was earlier.

bq. Having learnt English from a conversation primer, The Bald Prima Donna’s Romanian playwright, Ionesco, wrote it primarily using ‘Effle’, that is, grammatically correct phrases which make little sense outside their textbook

In connection with Loriot’s eightieth birthday, the Kamps bakery has been selling a cake based on a sketch of his, called the Kosakenzipfel (Cossack’s pyramid? by analogy with coconut pyramid).

LATER NOTE: In my haste to post a link on Ionesco, I overlooked the fact (see the comments) that whoever described the play The Bald Prima Donna in Cherwell seems to think Ionesco wrote in English and was satirizing the English upper classes. It isn’t so! He wrote in French. Here’s a slightly better account from Bristol University. While I’m at it, let’s acknowledge the translator, Donald Watson. And here’s something on the term Effle, conceding that Ionesco wrote in French.

4 thoughts on “German for foreigners / Deutsch für Ausländer

  1. Is it just me or does the author of that Ionesco review think the play was originally written in English (rather than French)?


  2. You’re obviously right – I know perfectly well it was French, but I didn’t give it a thought, because I just wanted a web link to give a little bit of backup to my reference, in case anyone didn’t know The Bald Prima Donna. But not only my quote, the whole article seems ill-informed. Ah well, Oxbridge.

  3. Yes, you have to wonder why a Franco-Romanian sitting in Paris would feel the urge to ‘satirise the quirks and facades of the English middle class’. Based on his readings of Assimil!

    I wonder if the English translator succeeded in getting the original ‘conversation primer’ from Ionesco. Trados would have taken it from there.


  4. From Margaret Marks’s Transblawg I learned of the term effle, meaning “grammatical English which could never be uttered because it has little meaning and could never be put into a sensible context” (and derived from the abbreviation EFL ‘English as…

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