Dec 10, 2016

Speaking German

Martin Luther, father of the Reformation, wrote a translation of the bible from Latin into the German spoken at the time, around the 1500's. It was one of the first complete translations of the bible from Latin into the "vulgar" but it was also a defining moment in the history of the German language because in writing this translation, Luther codified and standardized German which varied widely across the German-speaking world. To most Germans, Martin Luther is also the father of "Hochdeutsch" (High German).

Actually, this language has changed so little that I was surprised how easy it was to read the first chapter of Genesis (Moses in the German). It is a strange feeling to read and understand the directly written words of a 1500's monk who lived in the middle of Germany (although I have read it before, many times, in English, so that helped a bit with the comprehension and overall structure).

The downside of all this, of course, is that now I also mostly grasp the terrible puns and jokes in the German language, mostly in advertising, which still operates at a 1970's level compared to the US.
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