Welcome or “Don’t be so curious!”

13 Oct

Hello and welcome everybody. This blog is, well, let’s be honest, it is mainly for my very own pleasure. However, if you are fascinated by words and/or if you are learning German the articles that can be found here could be of interest to you.

I like learning languages. I like unlocking their secrets bit by bit. Ordering a beer in a language that isn’t your own is cool. Making a joke is even cooler. I have never been someone who likes translating though, because it is a tedious work and all too often you come across words that cannot be directly translated. The dictionary might give you an answer but I often feel that the word does not completely have the same connotations in both languages. Words can be so much more than just the name for a thing or a concept. They contain information about the history and culture of a people. They carry in them the key to understand the mentality of a group of individuals who are connected by the common language they speak. This complexity makes learning another language fascinating and exciting, and it makes translating a frustrating job at times. Let’s look at an example: “Neugier”.

The German word “Neugier” is translated as “curiosity”. In German we have this wonderful thing that we can just put any two words together and make it into a new one. Such is the case here. The word can be split into the two parts “neu”, meaning new, and “Gier”, meaning greed. Now isn’t this wonderful? In German you are not merely curious, you are greedy for something new. You want to know it, you have to know whatever it is that you don’t know yet. This also explains why as a kid I always thought it had a slight negative connotation. I frequently heard the phrase: “Sei nicht so neugierig!” – “Don’t be so curious.” Okay, I admit I was a smart ass kid and often stuck my nose where it didn’t belong. Still, “Neugier” was associated with such nasty habits as gossiping. The English equivalent of “neugierig” in this case would be “nosy”. And there we go. Apparently the German word “Neugier” has two possible translations; depending on the context it can either mean “curiosity” or “nosiness”.

These days I am all grown up and think that “Neugier” is a virtue in every part of life. And it is virtually impossible to learn a new language without being “neugierig”, no matter how you translate it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s