Do You Have the “Drang”?
In German, “Drang” expresses an “urge”, like an itch you have to scratch. Are you itching to learn German? Mark Twain called it “The Awful German Language”, but of course he was (half) kidding.
“Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless,”
and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.”
Mark Twain, “The Awful German Language”
While I disagree with the first part of Mark Twain’s statement–German is by no means “slipshod” or “systemless”–I must admit that it is very “slippery and elusive to the grasp.” I have over twenty years of teaching experience with German, but it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it must be for a non-native speaker to learn the language. Growing up with German as my native language, I took its complexities for granted, and only through teaching it did I come to truly appreciate the fact that I was born into it and did not have to learn it as a foreign language. That said, I admire anyone who attempts it and more so anyone who persists, and I hope that my pages will
* open your mind to other cultures
* provide useful links to other sources
* increase your desire to learn
* and maybe even entertain a little.
So scratch that itch and obey the “Drang”! Viel Spaß!
Read the complete text of Twain’s essay or listen to an audio version online.The essay is most entertaining for those who have already studied German to some extent and can relate to the language concepts lampooned by the author.
Also check out our deutschdrang blog, which includes short BILINGUAL articles on various topics related to German and/or German-speaking countries. Each article features a short learning activity. Levels vary, but most appropriate for upper-level beginners and up.