One fascinating feature of the contemporary German language is its attention to gender. I don’t mean just that words necessary must “agree” with gender in the grammatical sense, but also that the abstract person tends to be carefully addressed as “She or he” and also the endings of words are carefully tailored to reflect both genders, and more recently, also multiple genders (I’ve been told that you could write Physiker/innen or Physiker_innen, where the / or _ signifies “all others”). Here is the example that prompted this post: the title of a course in mathematics for physicists at the TU-Berlin
It would be interesting to read something about the history of how German became gender aware. For now all I know is based on observations [and my own improving, but still very far from good, knowledge of German].
I’m posting this because I’m in Germany doing interviews, and somehow it feels very relevant. It’s a sweet example of a German-English “Lost in translation” conversation. I’ve often found that when speaking between languages, when one or more of the speakers aren’t native, sometimes more truth shines through the cracks than in the intricately constructed, safe-from-losing-face, faultless expressions of native-speakers.
“Speak slowly, we’re German.”
“What’s your favorite thing about her?”
“…. she’s there.”
“When did you most appreciate her being there?”
He made a slightly puzzled expression, then turned to his wife and started speaking in German. She looked up at the sky for a second, then said: “He is island in my life.”
Found at the Facebook page “Humans of New York”