Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How to speak English like Einstein

[This is a transcript of the video embedded above. Parts of the text won’t make sense without the accompanying audio.]

Hi everybody, I’ve been thinking really hard about why you are here. Of course theoretical physics is awesome, but in my experience, that opinion is, sadly enough, not widely shared among the general population. So while I am thrilled to see you’re all super excited about the square well potential in Schrödinger’s equation, I am secretly convinced you’re just here to hear me try to pronounce difficult English words with a German accent. So, today, we’ll have a special feature about How To Speak English Like Einstein.
Albert Einstein: “The scientific method itself would not have led anywhere, it would not even have been formed, without a passionate striving for a clear understanding. Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.”
Don’t worry if you don’t speak German, you don’t need to know a single word of German to understand this video. But before we get started, let’s have a look at Professor Einstein’s name, Albert Einstein.

How is that pronounced correctly? Most importantly, the German ST is not pronounced “st” as you would in English, for example in “first” or “start”. The “ST” in Einstein is pronounced “scht”. Einstein.

The German “sch” is similar, but not exactly identical, to the English “sh”. If you are familiar with phonetic spelling, that’s this thing that looks like an integral. You find it in words like “push” or “machine”. It’s a good first approximation to the German “sch”, but if you want to get the German sound right, you have to pull the tongue back in your mouth.

Listen, the English one is “push”. Now pull back your tongue, and you get pusch. Pusch. That’s the sound that goes into Einschtein.

The rest is details. All the German vowels are shifted relative to the English ones, long story, big headache, but just try not to rely on the spelling, just listen. It’s Albert Einstein. Don’t worry about the “r” in Albert, just make that an “a”. Everyone does it and it’ll sound just fine. Albeat. Albeat Einstein.

Ok, so now about that German accent. To speak with a German accent, you have to remember which English sounds do not exist in German. And that’s most importantly, the English “th”, the vanishing “w”, and the “r”. If you replace those with the next closest German sounds, you’ll immediately sound very German.

Let’s use this sentence as example “I remember in February we were still thinking that this would be over relatively soon.” I hope I pronounced this correctly.

Here’s the first step to a German accent. Replace all the “th”s, the “th” with a “z”. Why a “z”? Because that’s what comes out if you put your tongue in the wrong place. That’s what you mean, zat’s what it sounds like. So, you replace “this” with “zis”. And “either” with “eizer”. “Therefore” with “zerefore”, and so on. The example sentence then becomes:

“I remember in February we were still zinking zat zis would be over relatively soon.”
Mayday, mayday. Hello, can you hear us? Can you hear us? Over. We are sinking. We are sinking.

Hello. Ziz is ze German coast guard.

We’re sinking. We’re sinking.

What are you zinking about?
German humor.

Second step. The vanishing English “w”. As in “what” or “wonderful”. That sound doesn’t exist in German either, so you make it a “v”. What becomes vat. Wonderful becomes vonderful. Would become vould, and so on. With that our example sentence now sounds like this

“I remember in February ve vere still zinking zat zis vould be over relatively soon.”

The third step is the probably most difficult one if you’re an English native speaker. It’s to replace the English “r” with a German r. The German “r” is a short rolling r. Think of a happy cat, it’s purring, it goes “rrrrrr” “rrrr”. Comes from the back of your throat. Like if you’re snoring. Rrrr. Try that. I’ll wait.

Excellent. Now you launch from that into a word. Let’s take the word “right”. “rrrrrrrrrrrrrright” right. Right. There you have it. It sounds very German doesn’t it? We don’t, in German, actually do a lot of rolling with the r, so don’t make that too long. Right. Also, don’t trill the r at the tip of your tongue, like in trust me. No, don’t do that. It should be tRust me.

Some more examples. Friend becomes “fRiend”. Direction becomes diRection. It’s actually a terrible sound.

The example sentence is now: “I Remember in FebRuaRy ve vere still zinking zat zis vould be over Relatively soon.”

Repeat after me, I’ll pause.

“I Remember in FebRuaRy ve vere still zinking zat zis vould be over Relatively soon.”

Great. You are awesome. Have fun with your Einstein English, don’t forget to subscribe and check my Patreon page for more content. Zanks for vatching.


  1. Think of a happy cat, it’s purring, it goes “rrrrrr” “rrrr”. Comes from the back of your throat. Like if you’re snoring. Rrrr. Try that. I’ll wait.

    How to speak cat like German

  2. "Second step. The vanishing English “w”. As in “what” or “wonderful”. That sound doesn’t exist in German either, so you make it a “v”. What becomes vat. Wonderful becomes vonderful. Would become vould, and so on."

    A corollary of this is hypercorrection. Wolf is the same word as in English and German, but pronounced differently. Thus, some people get the crazy idea that there is no v sound in English but that it also must be pronounced like a w, so you get things like "willage" and and so on: they have got it into their heads so much that the v sound is wrong in English (it is wolf not volf) that the go overboard.

    In the far north of Germany, s before t or p at the beginning of a word or syllable is pronounced more or less as in English. Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (also an excellent speaker of English, and a Deutsche Grammophon recording artist) and his wife Loki were good examples of that.

    In parts of southern Germany, including where Einstein was from, many pronounce the s before t or p like the English sh sound even if not at the beginning of a word or syllable.

    1. Well, since I sometimes do that mistakenly, let me say it's not so much a deliberate "hypercorrection" as a gymnastic problem. My brain full well know it's wrong. Getting my tongue into the right place at the right moment is a different matter entirely.

    2. "Getting my tongue into the right place at the right moment is a different matter entirely. "

      As the actress said to the bishop. :-)

    3. I worked in a company with people from 43 different countries. Our common language was English with 43 different accents. Once we had a discussion whether we should make our offers in UK English or American English. After a long discussion, our English engineer proposed that we should do it as before: poor English.
      I am from the north of Germany. When I went for the first time in the southern part, I did not understand anything.

    4. Of course, Christmas time reminds of us Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The character which catapulted Dickens to fame, though, was Sam Weller in The Pickwick Papers. His speech is characterized by, among other things, swapping v's and w's, e.g. "that is the wery voman".

  3. I’ve long known that W is pronounced like a V in German, but didn’t know that the pronunciation of “ch” in German is different from its English pronunciation, or that the pronunciation of “r” is also different than in English. Thanks for these tips. A couple of months ago I came across a youtube series titled: “German Girl in America”, named Felicia who is from Munich, but moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and gives pointers in some of her videos of how German words are pronounced. What is amazing is that her English is absolutely perfect, without a trace of an accent.

    When I began searching our direct paternal Schroeder line I was in despair as the surname is incredibly common. My first foray back in the early 80’s yielded a book, which just explained that Schroeder is derived from the German verb Schroten “to cut”, as in cloth, so sometimes is associated with a tailor and some history on emigration from Germany. The latter part of the book then listed thousands of Schroeder’s and their addresses all over the US. If memory serves the number of people in the US bearing that name, or close facsimiles, was in the hundreds of thousands. I’m guessing the first letters “Schr” as in Schroten and Schroeder are pronounced the same as in English, but I might be wrong.

    Then I joined a service called Geneanet and logged on, explaining my dilemma, while providing all the info I knew from my dad’s notes. A German user kindly provided a link, which I quickly checked out. To my utter astonishment it gave the birth, death, and baptism dates of the paternal line all the way to a 5th gr-grandfather, a Johann Schroeder, born “um” (about) 1705. Prefixing his death date was the German word “Vor”, which I looked up and it meant “before” in English. I would think that the “um” would be pronounced like “mum” in English minus the first “m”. Maybe the German pronunciation of “Vor” is about what I would pronounce it in English as like “or” but pronouncing the “V” in front.

  4. Oops, I just realized I goofed in my previous comment. The prefix letters "sch" that is common in German words and names has the letter combo of "ch", as in the video. So, the pronunciation of that prefix in any German word would be different than in English.

    1. To first order, sch in German is like sh in English.

      ch in German allegedly doesn't exist in English. There are two sounds: after a, o, u (back vowels) like in Bach, and after e, i, y, ä, ö, ü (front vowels). The latter also at the beginning of a word or syllable. The latter is sort of like a combination of h and consonant y in English, such as the first sound in the name of the city of Houston (pronounced incorrectly by some as Youston or like the German Husten (cough)).

      Swedish has the ch sound from Bach (spelled in various ways in Swedish) at the beginning of words as well.

      In Dutch, the English sh sound is written sj. The ch sound is like German, but sch is s then the German ch, i.e. NOT like German sch.

    2. Once in a train crossing the Alpes, I meet an American student and his girlfriend. He explained her that the German language is exceedingly difficult, but it is easy to pronounce. Just pronounce it as it is written he said.
      In English it is sometimes impossible to know how to pronounce the word without the context: e.g. lead. This is impossible in German.

    3. The German "pronounce it as it's written" rule though is only half true. Eg, that "st" is sometimes pronounced "scht" is only one of many exceptions. Indeed, if "st" comes in the middle of a word (eg "Belastung") it's usually NOT "scht". Then of course, in "Stein" it's actually the beginning of a word. If you know that that's a word by itself to begin with.

      Another exception is that the "er" at the end of words is basically just pronounced "a". Many children (including me and my children), when they learn to write by the "as it's spoken" rule, will therefore write "Wassa" instead of "Wasser", etc. It's actually pretty much the same as in British English with the "schwa" ending (teacher, doctor, etc).

      Then there are other sounds which are just ambiguous. As Phillip has already pointed out, German has the v,w, and f, but actually only two different sounds for those. Why, for example, is is "Vater" (father) and not "Fater", oder "Vase" and not "Wase"? Doesn't make any sense.

      So, well. The thing is that there are so many exceptions to this rule it isn't much of a rule really.

      The "say it as it's written" rule works pretty well in German for vowels though, and that doesn't work at all in English. I actually think that "American style" spellings like "lite", "thru" make more sense (and suspect that in 100 years from now they'll have become the dominant spelling).

    4. "As Phillip has already pointed out, German has the v,w, and f, but actually only two different sounds for those. Why, for example, is is "Vater" (father) and not "Fater", oder "Vase" and not "Wase"? Doesn't make any sense. "

      Actually, three, and you wrote one above: f, v, and ph are all pronounced like English f.

      For some reason, ph is often used for words originally of Greek origin, like Phillip. Some language have done away with that (Filip is the standard spelling in Swedish and Dutch, Felipe in Spanish, etc.) V is almost always f in German except in some foreign words, such as Vase, names like Valentina (sometimes written Walentina), and so on.

      English is probably the worst: spelling doesn't imply pronunciation and vice versa. If you know the rules, then in German and even in French you know how to pronounce a word if it is written, but not necessarily vice versa, although German is easier in French in that respect. Dutch has different rules, but if you know them, the pronunciation is always clear from the spelling, and almost always vice versa.

      Some languages are very easy in this respect; Spanish and Norwegian, for example, have very clear rules, so it is clear how the written word is pronounced and the spoken word spelled. However, there are more sounds than letters, so some sounds are two letters (ll for the English consonant y, for example). Some languages with more letters, such as Macedonian (Cyrillic alphabet) have a one-to-one correspondence between written and spoken words.

      As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, you can write fish in English as ghoti: the gh from laugh, the o from women, and the ti from nation. :-)

  5. Rolling the tongue in the back is done in Russian as well. English has none of this. To get more of the guttural sound you go from German inti Yiddish.

  6. Dear Sabine -- Loved your latest blog on speaking German! I hope you can take the time to read Mark Twain's hilarious take on the German language, which he wrote in the 1880s while visiting your beautiful country. There's a free read over at

    God bless, and Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks for reminding me of this essay! Always makes me laugh :) Wish you a Merry Christmas too,


  7. did you ever teach german language to english students ?

    1. No, why would I? As most native speakers, I know little about my own language. Fwiw, I'd probably be better at teaching English than teaching German. When it comes to English, I know at least how it works in theory ;)

    2. There is almost no theory to English. English is the ultimate pigeon language. It started out as a Keltic/Gaelic language that got an overlay of Latin with the Romans. Then it got an overlay of Germanic langauge form from the Saxons in the 6th century. Then after 1066 it got an injection of French, but the Normans were Vikings who were "Frankified." After the Glorious Revolution and the House of Hanover in England German made some light reappearance.

      There is a lot of un-ruled redundancy in English. For instance in French there is the unfamiliar or plural you as vous and the familiar tu. With English you was like vous, and the intimate was thee. That has been dropped. Interestingly in the southern US there has been a reintroduction of a plural your with "y'all."

      Most of us do not see our native language in the same way as a foreign language. The foreign languages I know, or maybe I should better say have known, the best are French, Spanish and Russian. I can see still the grammar in a sort of formal way. I also learned German and Hungarian some, German was only a semester and Hungarian is an infernally difficult langauge to learn. I learned Hebrew, but beyond baruchas I have forgotten most of it. The same holds for Latin. My religious background is a confusion of Catholicism and Judaism.

    3. I think that you mean "pidgin".

      Technically, it is not a pidgin language.

    4. "It started out as a Keltic/Gaelic language that got an overlay of Latin with the Romans. Then it got an overlay of Germanic langauge form from the Saxons in the 6th century. Then after 1066 it got an injection of French, but the Normans were Vikings who were "Frankified." After the Glorious Revolution and the House of Hanover in England German made some light reappearance."

      Not really. It is basically a Germanic language with a strong influence form Norman French. Yes, before the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were there, there were the Romans, who invaded a basically Celtic country. But there are very few vestiges of Celtic and Latin in English. There are more from the Vikings, but not as many as from the French. (As you note, the Normans ("Northmen") were Vikings just a couple of centuries before. People sometimes wonder why they adopted French so quickly. Perhaps most of the Normans were basically French, but ruled by the Vikings. On the other hand, some claim that the basic population of England is still the same before Germanic tribes came, though their language prevailed. To this day, one can often immediately recognize people as English, especially children. They are not similar to people in northern Germany.)

      Later, Latin and Greek entered during the Renaissance, but that happened in several languages. The influence of the later German-speaking monarchs wasn't that large. (The French-speaking monarch in Sweden had a much larger influence on Swedish.)

    5. Yes pidgin and not the bird.

      There is a lot of French in English. Most words with tion or the sound "shun" at the end come from French. You <---> vous and other instances. Without the French overlay English would probably bed a bit like Dutch.

      I agree that Keltic influence is somewhat minimal and the later German influence was small.

    6. "Technically, it is not a pidgin language."

      Technically, I would classify English as a creole language, a simplified, isolating, grammar with a germanic/french vocabulary. Specialists in creole disagree with this, but I never understood why.

      The English orthography is an utter mess due to the fact that it's spelling was mainly standardized before a massive sound shift. After the sound shift, all the word pronunciations had changed.

      If you want to try out your second language skills in English, try reading aloud the lengthy poem you find if you search for:

      Dearest creature in creation,
      Study English pronunciation.

    7. "There is a lot of French in English. Most words with tion or the sound "shun" at the end come from French."

      Yes, or at least from Latin, though these exist in many languages. It's things like "library" instead of "Bücherei" and "colour" rather than "Farbe" and many others which set it apart from other Germanic languages. But there is also the Viking influence, though to a lesser degree: "take the knife and cut the steak" is, in modern Swedish, "ta(ga) kniven och kutta steken", while in German it is "nimm das Messer und schneide den Braten". (To be sure, some suggest that cut went from English to Swedish kutta not vice versa; there is another word for cut, skära, related to and pronounced essentially like shear.) There is a Swedish word "sky" which means a type of cloud. One can almost see a Viking and an Englishman looking up and exchanging words and getting the meaning of the gesture slightly wrong. (The Swedish word for sky is "himmel", like in German.)

      One of the most interesting books I have is an etymological dictionary of English. It is full of interesting stuff. For example, "dodo" is from Dutch, but the Dutch got it from English, who in turn got it from the Dutch. Then there are pairs of words from French which mean almost the same thing but entered the language at different times and/or from different dialects, such as "warranty" and "guarantee".

      On the other hand, there are many French phrases in English which are recognizably foreign and don't descend from Norman French in England. Some of these mean the same thing in modern French in France, some are proper French but mean something different, and some would not be understood by a French-speaking person at all, though technically the phrases look French.

  8. I have always been impressed by Einstein's command of English. I recently quoted him in my book as saying "He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt [as in 'rapture'] in awe, is as good as dead". I know this is the correct sentence because I have a copy of the original book (Living Philosophies (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1931), p.6), but I then noticed that some fools had misquoted him on the Internet as saying "wrapped", possibly because they were unaware of the word "rapt". Nice one Einstein!

  9. Thank you Sabine. That was both genuinely informative (I love the German language) and the best set of laughs I've had all month!

  10. . The vanishing English “w”. As in “what” or “wonderful”. That sound doesn’t exist in German either, so you make it a “v”. What becomes vat. Wonderful becomes vonderful. Would become vould, and so on.

    what about "wh" as in who?

    1. You'd probably make that "hoo". Since it's pretty much one of the first words you learn in English. I should ask my kids ;)

    2. Of course, in English "who" is pronounced "hoo" by everyone, so the question of v vs. w doesn't arise.

      I note that some dialects of English distinguish between w and wh, e.g., are there whales off the coast of Wales? Do you whine about the lack of wine)? In such cases, the wh is basically with the mouth in the same position as for w but with no sound and blowing air, i.e. the sound made when blowing out a candle.

      Adding more air to voiceless consonance is common. Compare d and t: you can feel the breath with t but not with d. One often reads that d and b are pronounced like t and p at the ends of words in some languages (including German), but that is not actually true: they are de-voiced. Thus, even if whispered, one can hear the distinction between "tot" (dead) and "Tod" (death). However, the voiceless-but-also-no-air form exists in most languages, and is used after "s". Try it: compare "pit" to "spit" and "top" to "stop". Most people are not aware of this, since the distinction is not idiomatic most of the time, i.e. there aren't pairs of words with both forms (as in "tot" vs. "Tod", but that is only when whispered. Some languages do have such a distinction, which is why one sees some transliterations such as ph which is not meant to suggest the f sound but rather an aspirated (normal in English in German) vs. unaspirated (like after s). Typical for many Indian accents is speaking with no consonants aspirated. It just sounds wrong, since one is used to it the other way around. However, consonants in Dutch are not aspirated either, but that is rarely taught since it is difficult if one doesn't speak a language with the distinction and one will be understood anyway. But if you speak Dutch reasonably well but are a native speaker of, say, English or German, try to add an Indian accent (assuming that you can do one) to sound more authentic.

  11. Tony Proctor wrote: I have always been impressed by Einstein's command of English.

    According to Alice Calaprice (The New Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press), "Einstein never became fluent in English, either written or spoken... If he was asked to speak formally, or to write a letter or article, he would first write a draft in German, and then a colleague or secretary would translate it". As far as I know, his contributions to various English books (such as Living Philosophies that you quoted) were all written by him in German and translated by the editors. For example, the Autobiographical Notes in Schilpp's book were written in German and translated by Schlipp. (Some editions contain both the original German and the English translation.) One of Einstein's assistants, Leopold Infeld (who wrote The Evolution of Physics), joked that Einstein knew only 300 English words, "pronounced in a peculiar way". Einstein wrote to Max Born that he could never write in English "because of the treacherous spelling." To the end of his life I think he was not really comfortable in any language other than German.

    1. Thanks for that information Amos. I admit that I did wonder over it. The book credits Forbes Magazine -- which I do not have access to -- but makes absolutely no mention of any translators, or the original tongue for the various contributions.

  12. This explains something that happened to me. I tried to revisit and brush up on some of my secondary school German when I did a road trip to Gräfenhainichen last year. Turned out I was so obviously not a native that *every time* I tried talking to someone in German they would invariably answer back in English that was probably less accented than my own. So I guess there's an English accent in the German language just as there's a German accent for English? :) The video taught me I have definitely been messing up a lot of the consonants!

    Also, a merry Christmas to you, Sabine, and a happy New Vear. Hoping that all this bollocks passes and that I get to visit Germany again next year :)

    1. Yes, there's a typically English accent in German.

      For some reason it's presently kind of popular in my kids' age group (primary school) to do fake French and English accents. They speak neither English nor French, but curiously enough, you'll immediately know what they mean. Incidentally this is what got me thinking about this video in the first place.

      What they're doing for the "fake English" accent is firstly to remove all the "r"s. (Ie, opposite of what I say in the video.) Then they also make all the "l"s into dark "l"s. This is for all I can tell the case in American English in particular, whereas in British English some of the "l"s remain light. In any case, it's a typically English sound. The third thing they do is to make pretty much each vowel into a diphthong. German has a few diphthongs, but they're rare, whereas in English you have them everywhere.

      The result, loosely speaking, sounds somewhat as if you're trying to speak while chewing ;)

      I could add there that English native speakers almost always have trouble with the German "ch" sound, and their vowels tend to remain partly closed.

      I once watched a video from some British guy trying to explain how to pronounce the British /a/ sound. I can't remember the video, sorry, but it's not so relevant. It's the sound that goes into "car" or "far". He said in essence, if someone steps on your foot and it hurts, you go "aaaa" - and out of his mouth comes that British "a". It evidently didn't occur to him that Germans would use the German "a". Which at least to me sounds distinctly different.

      When my kids were a few months old and were just making their first sounds, I remember thinking they already sound German.

  13. bee

    what do you think Einstein would prefer if he were alive based on his theoretical mindset string theory or loop quantum gravity

    1. I suspect he wouldn't like either because both of them are quantum theories. Einstein, as you know, didn't believe quantum mechanics is fundamental (god doesn't play dice and all).

  14. Also sprach Astone.

    Merry Christmas.

  15. Speaking of American accents, one thing I find delightful about the American southern drawl (think Forrest Gump) is that since it is more an alternating pattern of stretched-loud, short-quiet than it is a change of consonants and vowels, it can be applied to almost any language, especially if you throw in a hallmark "ya'll" at the end:

    "S P R E CH en sie D E U TS C H, ya'll?"

    "P A R L ez V O U S fran C A I S, ya'll?"

    In any case, from Virginia, USA, with good cheer and hope for the New Year, I say:

    "M E R R y C H R I S T mas, ya'll!"

    1. In the States, I once had a French teacher from Louisiana (nothing to do with the French-speaking people in Louisiana) who had a southern drawl, really extreme, like in Gone With the Wind, not so much when she spoke English but when she spoke French. "Regardez les exercise de vocabulaire s'il vous plaît." :-)

  16. Dear Sabine,

    Your entertaining 'orthographic gymnastics' made me think of Mark Twain's 'A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling':

    For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

    Merry Christmas to you.

    1. John, that was delightful, thanks! (and Merry Christmas too!)

      And now I must apologize in advance for being picky, but I'm always big on giving original authors credit.

      While "A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling" is widely attributed to Mark Twain, it is actually a few paragraphs from a 1971 letter in The Economist by M. J. Shields. Shields was not the primary author of the essay either, since his letter was an adaptation of the hilarious 1946 essay "Meihem in ce Klasrum" [1] by John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction.

      Mark Twain likely gets credit due to his 1899 essay "A Simplified Alphabet" [2], in which he advocates using standard letters to capture the intent both of a simplified spelling movement of that time, and of Sir Isaac Pitman and Alexander John Ellis's much earlier (1844) "English Phonetic Alphabet" [3]. While the English Phonetic Alphabet never saw much use, it impressed Twain and contributed to the modern International Phonetic Alphabet.

      Campbell may have been inspired by the Twain essay, which has a similar theme and similarly humorous examples such as:

      "La on, Makduf, and damd be he hoo furst krys hold, enuf!"

      One simplified spelling in the Twain essay that arguably has made some headway in modern times is "thru" in place of "through".


    2. Terry,
      Wauw, I did not know that, but then again, I'm neither a linguist, nor a novelist, nor a historian, I'am only a physicist. Thanks for putting the record straight.
      Merry Christmas.

  17. Of course, if you are really wanting to master a German accent when you are speaking English, you must be constantly abusing the progressive aspect, as many German people are speaking like this, which is strange because English isn't sounding like this at all when you are listening to native speakers. :-)

    This might also be due to hypercorrection. There is no progressive aspect as such in German; it is obvious from the context but, if not, one can add "gerade" (e.g. "ich esse gerade" for "I am eating" as opposed to "ich esse" for "I eat") or use the construction "ich bin am Essen" or "ich bin beim Essen" (similar to the Dutch "ik ben an het eten", which is even more common). Thus, there is a tendency not to use the progressive when it should be used, which sounds like an old-school German accent, so, to avoid that, people went overboard and started to use it all the time.

  18. Meine ausprache auf Deutsch ist sehr schlecht. Zum beispiel, Ich kann niemals sagen "Ich möchte mich beschweren" ohne meine Deutsche Freunden gelacht haben.

  19. Love all your videos, and this one reminds me of the time I had a German boss who spoke English with a Cockney accent. Ah memories.

    My partner speaks quite good German, but has a regional accent that makes Germans think she's from Upper Austria.

  20. There is one more language problem worthy of world class theoretical physicist roaming on the steppes of the Internet, "What is a nerd?" How to spot one or find out whether you can be called one? What is a configuration of forces that produces such a pattern?

    People often use words like geeks, nerds (in Russian segment there is 'botan', apparently from botany, but it has slightly different derogatory tones than its English counterparts), then there are 'dark' counterparts like neeks, hikikomori, etc. I'm sure there are a lot of technical terms in German (with proper documentation and requirements).

    On top of that some scientists (usually Russian biology-physiology professors) are joking with cold sweat on their foreheads that they are apparently "normal and not nerds [botans]". So the question comes up, "What is the difference?" And further, what is the difference between a geek and a scientist (a mega-geek?) What turns a geek into a scientist and what are the requirements? Then further, what is the taxonomy and hierarchy of nerds? So that the Internet can finally approach the theory of nerds proper, and find something constructive to do - to classify nerds! There is of course a risk of becoming the queen of nerds who started the field of nerdology. But well...

  21. Hello Vadim,

    the best translation of "nerd" seems to me to be egghead=Eierkopf.
    My survival tool DeepL fails miserably.
    But "nerd" is also very common.

    The shortest joke I remember about nerds is: There are 10 types of people: Those who think binary and those who don't.

    Greetings Stefan

    1. Hi Stefan, thanks for reference to eierkopf, it's same in Russian (used usually derogatory for IT crowd).

      "There are 10 types of people"

      In methodology of engineering approach it would be a particular test case for a particular instance in order to check belonging to the aforementioned category. But in order to separate the category itself one has to come up with some general enough rule highlighting the characteristic behavior, or speaking in ways of Greek philosophers approaching it by the results of its actions, i.e. what are the results of nerd's action?

      Etymological dictionary (not speaking of a standard one) is of no help:
      geek - "sideshow freak," 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck "a fool, dupe, simpleton" (1510s), apparently from Dutch gek or Low German geck.
      nerd - 1951, U.S. student slang, probably an alteration of 1940s slang nert "stupid or crazy person," itself an alteration of nut.

      So the initial working hypothesis may be something like: a behavior of nerd processes is characterized by some focused activity of disassembly of a particular computation (i.e. ran in parallel) into some sequential instructions of language. So skipping the boring details (environment of computation, rules of computation, sanity, competence, performance, etc.) nerds are characterized by mining universal computation for code.

      Whether they count in binary or construct poetry in Sindarin is irrelevant, it's just an implementation of a particular instance in a particular environment ran by particular rules (rules perhaps previously distilled by some hyper-nerds, i.e. manifestation is tertiary in coming up with an abstraction itself, i.e. provides statistics and concrete tests cases).

    2. Only not hypernerds but metanerds! Metanerds could then be generalized as negentropy transformers/pumps or compressors of information that set up rules to optimize for losses of energy. In such way the whole body of nerds could be optimistically called a beta version of Maxwell's demon! Maybe that would be better sold to the majority of policy legislators and investors.

  22. Listening to a lot of youtube music videos, the title “99 Luftballons” recently came up on my feed. I recognized it as a song I had first heard in the 80’s on my car’s radio. Back then with road noise I initially couldn’t make out whether it was being sung in English or German, as some words were very close to English, or sort of the way Einstein might have pronounced these particular words. I clicked on “99 Luftballons (Live von der “Nichts Versaumt” Tour 2018)” and listened/watched. NENA was singing this in German, somewhere in Germany. Some words are quite close to English, but with the German pronunciation. It was really cool the way the audience fills in the lyrics when NENA cues them with outstretched arms. That song brought me back to the 80’s.


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