One of the things that are always hard for a German learner is the huge number of words for food items. So many foods have multiple names. Karotte/Möhre. Orange/Apfelsine. Lauch/Poree.
A thing that really confused me is Chicken. Huhn, Hühnchen, Hähnchen… So many words, which ones are right?
So I looked up all the terms for Chicken and found that the terms for living animals (hen, rooster, chick) were all pretty clear. It’s only chicken meat that varies between Hähnchen and Hühner. So in comes Google, and here’s a chart comparing the frequency of Google results for terms using Hähnchen vs Hühner.
I often get asked whether learning German is easier because I know French and English already.
The answer is NO.
And the best example is possessive pronouns (my, your, their, etc.)
See, in French, you choose which possessive based on the object. “Mère” is feminine, so it’s always with the feminine possessive (ma mère, ta mère, sa mère). Similarly with “père”: mon père, ton père, son père.
In English, possessives are based on the person doing the owning. My mom, my dad. Your mom, your dad. So you need to worry about the 3rd person: he, she, it. His mom, his dad. Her mom, her dad.
In GERMAN, it’s based on both who’s doing the owning and what’s being owned: the pronoun you choose is based on the subject, the ending is based on the object. Thus, “ihrE Mutter, ihR Vater”; “seinE Mutter, seiN Vater”.
And that’s just for the nominative case. Don’t get me started on all the cases.
I was teaching my 2yo how to say ball in French, and he got really confused because a ballon in French is a Ball in German, and a German Ballon is a balloon, or as the French French say, a baudruche (we Quebecers just call it a ballon).
It got me thinking, what are the different words for Ball-like things?
I made a chart with my results:
Conclusions (approximate, I’m not a linguist):
English pretty much calls everything a ball, except it they float
German seems to distinguish things that roll, bounce and float
French boules roll, balles are thrown, and ballons are filled with air