Der Brief

News to some of you: I spend a little time almost every day studying German. Even though my surname is French, I find German more interesting. For one thing, they pronounce pretty much all of the letters in all words, seldom resorting to dropping consonants and blowing snot bubbles. [1]  For another, my parents were each ½ German, thus making me ½ German.  Finally, my wife and I enjoy traveling there occasionally, and I must admit – my German skills there are rarely very useful.  I can read signs. Sometimes in small villages it helps when no one can (or wants to) speak English.

As you might guess, Buchladen is Bookstore.

On some study days I will read short stories for variety, instead of the regular vocabulary and grammar lessons. Those can be a real grind.

Following is a very short story I read recently during a study session (my translation to English is good enough).  Most stories are enjoyable, but I especially liked this one.  It’s called “Der Brief”(The Letter).

Here goes.  Translated by me.

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Sari and Lilli are standing in front of a bookstore.

Immensee, famous 19th century German novella

Sari says: Let’s go in! I love old books!

Lilli: And that’s why we are friends.

They go into the bookstore. Sari takes a book and opens it up.

Sari: Lilli!! There’s an old letter in this book!

Lilli: What kind of letter?

Sari: A man named Joseph is writing to his good friend, Doris. He needs some advice.

Der Brief

Lilli: Why? What kind of advice?

Sari: He says that he loves two women, Marianna, and Ruth. Marianna is highly intelligent. But Ruth is very funny. He doesn’t know which one he should marry!

Lilli: I hope he stayed single.  [Lilli is often the Debbie Downer in the lessons and stories]

Sari: Now I really need to know what his friend Doris had to say.

Just then, the woman who owns the bookstore comes over to them.

Owner: Oh! That is a terrific book! … It belonged to my husband. … He died last year.

Sari: Oh, I am so sorry!

Lilli (spark in her voice now): Was your husband’s name Joseph?

Owner (a little surprised): Yes!

Sari (excitedly): And what’s your name?  Marianna … or Ruth?

The woman smiles, a fresh gleam in her eyes.

My name is Doris.

Well, hope you liked it at least half as much as I did.

Until next time …

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[1] In some spoken instances they do drop final parts a word. E.g. Einen often becomes Ein because, quite frankly, who really cares if you get the gender and grammatical case correct?

Joe Girard (c) 2022 — story snagged from Duolingo.

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8 thoughts on “Der Brief”

  1. Regina

    [1] In some spoken instances they do drop final parts a word. E.g. Einen often becomes Ein because, quite frankly, who really cares if you get the gender and grammatical case correct?

    > Yes, but always with a long ‘n’. You can still hear the difference. 🤓

    > We do drop consonants, particularly the ‘r’ at the end of a syllable: besser, früher, Wasser, Lehrer etc. It’s quite similar to how the British pronounce the last two letters in better, water, teacher etc.

    I like the story. 😊

    1. Joe Post Author

      Yes, thanks. Thought of that after posting.
      I recall being quite frustrated when Germans could not understand the most simple words: Radler, Fahrer, and your list.
      Depending on UK region, they not only drop “r”, they drop “-er” and add “-ah.”
      Oh, so you like my sistah.
      Sometimes they reverse it (esp near Boston), and drop the final “-a”, then add “-er”. So, you are going to Canader.
      By the way: I found Immensee quite depressing. Sort of like Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea, — or Snows of Kilimanjaro
      Later
      J

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