The Awful German Language

I am a language geek, and I’m proud of it. I know its’t not always obvious in this blog, but I am not a native English speaker, and I never proofread my posts (I’m not much of a perfectionist..). I came across a text by Mark Twain while I was in secondary school, going through my fifth year of German. The text was published as an appendix to ‘A Tramp Abroad’. I was only days away from an exam or important test and was given this text to read by a friend. And boy does Twain put words to some of the frustrations I was faced with:

“Every time I think I have got one of these four confusing “cases” where I am master of it, a seemingly insignificant preposition intrudes itself into my sentence, clothed with an awful and unsuspected power, and crumbles the ground from under me.”

Anyone who has attended any German classes in Norway know at least one group of prepositions by heart (aus, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu) and unfortunately for many of us, when trying to utter a sentence in German any preposition will trigger these lists. I am one of those who made it through the German classes quite well, as long as I had a dictionary nearby, and the tests were written. When trying to speak German, I stink. A sentence, or the attempt to answer a question using a full sentence, usually results in:

Ehm, ja, der, nein, das, nein, nein, die Kirche ist in (then the head races: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen – moving indicates accusative, no movement is dative) das, ehm, nein (ehm, the gender of Park? der Park? das Park? die Park? ‘der’ feels more natural, I’ll go for that) der, nein, scheisse (if Park is masculine and the church is in the park, it is not moving, Park must thus be in dative) der, den, dem, ja, DEM, die Kirche ist in dem Park! Nein! (fuck! ‘in’ and ‘dem’ gives ‘im’. Try again) Die kirche ist im Park!! Ja, die Kirche ist im Park!! (But by this time the poor Germans have already found the church…)

Twain deals well with the problems related to linguistic gender in German, but also quite fittingly describe the syntax (how sentences are created):

“An average sentence, in a German newspaper, is a sublime and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column; it contains all the ten parts of speech—not in regular order, but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any dictionary—six or seven words compacted into one, without joint or seam—that is, without hyphens; it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects, each enclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and there extra parentheses, making pens with pens: finally, all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other in the middle of the last line of it—after which comes the verb, and you find out for the first time what the man has been talking about; and after the verb—merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out—the writer shovels in “Haben Sind Gewesen Gehabt Haben Geworden Sein,” or words to that effect, and the monument is finished.”

You can read the text in its entirety here.

Relaxing in the Summer Sun

In case you had forgotten, this is what relaxing in the sun looks like.

This is Dundee, my four-legged baby girl who knows better than anyone to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Or, what I think is more politically correct in this case, the warmth of the floor-boards that the sun has heated for a wee while. Anyway, I think we can all learn a little from this wee, furry, creature.

Enjoy your days off 🙂

Bathing in June

Living somewhere the temperature varies between 11 degrees C to almost 25 degrees in one week in late June, outside swimming is not my first priority. I can’t go an entire summer without testing (either) the rivers, lakes or salt water, but I’d rather wait until August, when the temperature is more likely to have reached a two digit number.

Until then we have to make do with what we have.

In about 20 degrees and under the warmth of the sun, a puddle can be just as much fun, especially if you’re only two. Son is having the time of his life splashing around.

Hope you have a great summer and get to splash around as much as your heart desires 🙂

Decorating for children

I came across one of those pink, Norwegian, interior design blogs, and saw someone who had payed quite a bit for a what seemed like very little work. It was a children’s song written black-on-white with a few words highlighted in a different colour. The song was then framed in what looked like just a simple IKEA frame.

I had a few frames lying about after we framed some of Son’s amazing art productions, see this post. I used one  about 20x30cm (about 7×11 inches), then spent a few minutes on the computer, and then had a result that I think looks kind of cute. It’s cheap, it’s personal and it looks good on the wall in Son’s room.

 

Making out the make-up mystery

Unfortunately for me I skipped out on the mandatory ‘how to apply make-up without looking like a tart’ education when I was in my early teens. I have just assumed that everyone else was taught or, one way or the other, picked up on how to do these things. I never did. Or, well, I did to some extent, but the knowledge was limited to knowing what the various products were: mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and how to apply them, which was again very limited.

I thought, as I said, that everyone else knew much more about this than I did. But, when talking to a good friend of mine, a successful, bright and highly intelligent young woman, had never taken time to learn more about this than I had.

During my maternity leave (which was little on the long side) I found myself with quite a lot of extra time on my hands (I have a quiet child who is rarely up to no good) and decided to find out some more about these things that until then had been rather lost on me. YouTube became my best friend.

I came across this wonderful woman with the most delightful accent. And I now, if nothing else, feel more confident about eyeshadows, blending colours, mixing colours and exactly how to shake my head when applying mascara 😉 Hope you pick up a few tricks, or at least enjoy listening to the accent.

 

Gelato al Limone

Most of my summers growing up included a few weeks in Italy. The Italian ‘gelato’ has thus become a necessary supplement for an acceptable summer. Unfortunately I haven’t spent too many summers in Italy after moving on my own, and as ice-cream is a wee bit difficult to import, I have now bought an ice-cream maker and am on the search for a recipe for proper Italian ‘Gelato al Limone’ – lemon ice-cream.

Many years back I tried lemon ice-cream in Norway. I was close to tears when I tasted it. It tasted like frozen, thick McDonalds-inspired milkshake. It was sickening. The Italian lemon ice-cream on the other hand is just wonderful. The fat content is lower (the sugar content is still through the roof) which makes it thinner, and more refreshing. It’s like a creamy sorbet and must be tried.

I have so far tried one recipe, and though delicious, it’s not as soft and creamy as it should be. It is a tasty ice-cream, and has been added to my book of recipes, but it’s not quite the ‘gelato al limone’ I’m looking for.

You need:

4 dl of water

4 dl of sugar

2,5 dl of milk

2,8 dl of lemons (that was about 5 lemons)

2 egg whites

Dissolve the sugar in simmering water. Then, and do this is the following order: add the lemon juice to the water before you add the milk (I tried to save a wee bit of time and added the milk to the lemon juice *facepalm*). Whisk the egg whites and gently stir in with the rest.

Put the mix the in the fridge until properly cold before using the ice-cream maker. I have obviously not invested enough money in my ice-cream maker, and thus never got more than slush, but after half a day in the freezer (stirring once or twice) the texture was as good as it gets.

Summer cake

Nothing says summer like this cake does. It should be eaten outside on a sunny day, with a glass of champagne on the side along with fresh strawberries and raspberries. I served this along with the Oreo cake last week and they were both well received.

The recipe is from Manuela’s Passion for Baking, a truly calorie-rich food-blog.

 

The cake is made up of two layers, for the first you need:

170 grams of ground almonds

3 eggs

175 grams of sugar

Whisk the eggs and the sugar until white, then add the ground almonds. Cook at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes.

 

Second layer:

250 grams of sugar

3 egg whites

1 egg

50 ml of lemon juice

The zest of about 2 lemons

65 grams of flour

A pinch of salt

The juice from 275 frozen raspberries

The only trick to the second layer is the raspberries. Put the amount you need in a microwave and heat them up a bit. Make sure they are slushy before you try to use them. Sieve the raspberries so that you end up with the only the juice from the berries. Mix all the ingredients together.

The batter for the second is very thin, and is supposed to be. Pour it on top of the cooked first layer and cook for an additional 25 minutes. When the top layer is no longer liquid the cake is done. Check how thin the top layer is by shaking the form a bit to see how the top layer moves.