Mark Twain’s thoughts about the German language

The other day, while we were on the Azores for our summer holiday, I ran across a funny quote by Mark Twain and I am sure it will lighten up some German learners’ hearts.

“Life is too short to learn German.”

I am sure this is what some of my students of German think at times. This is more in reference to adults as they become more impatient with their progress than regular younger school students. Some adults are under pressure to study German to obtain the necessary German proficiency certificate for their professional career, others just get frustrated with their pace of learning German. Nevertheless, if you can imbed a sense of humor into your language learning, like Mark Twain did, it will turn out fine.

Mark Twain himself studied German for a long time starting with his governess in the United States and at one point he ended up in Heidelberg/Germany for nine months studying more German. There is a little pamphlet, written by him in German, about the awful German language and it is hilarious!! Most native German speakers would not even understand the grammar points he is refering to in his ridicule of the language. It takes a real linguist, or a learner of German, to understand his irony when he writes about Die Schreckliche Deutsche Sprache.

He makes fun of the infamous Dativ case and everything else concerning the peculiar pitfalls in learning the  German language. This pamphlet is only for advanced German speakers and even then, it will be a real test of your reading comprehension, general grammar knowledge and sense of humor coupled with irony.


  1. […] Mark Twain had a lot to say about learning German too – read more at Life is too short to study German. […]

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