This week was actually remarkably productive. I finished the first part of my story, dealing with the experiences of a German-born Turk named Nehmet growing up in Berlin. The story talks about his coming to terms with his identity and the paradigm of looking “foreign” but feeling native. The next part of the story will deal with the exact opposite, the daughter of former East Germans who feels she no longer has a homeland as it was re-absorbed into Bundesrepublik. No one would ever accuse her of being foreign but she struggles to find a connection to the modern, capitalist society of Germany after having been raised by staunch communists.

One thing I did deal with a lot this week was the task of editing, and trying to pick out all the little grammatical tidbits of such a complex language has been daunting but also fun. One interesting fact about German is that, thanks to a convoluted case system, there is 16 ways in which you can say the word “the.” When I first started learning this it seemed ridiculous to me, but now I see the merit of it. By using the different cases and genders, with the simple word “the” in German you can convey a multitude of meanings, such as motion towards something, gender, possession and many other grammatical aspects. My task this week has been re-reading my work to fine-tune and make sure that all of these little tidbits are in order so that my writing can convey the nuanced aspects of Nehmet’s journey with clarity.

2 thoughts on “Progress

    1. conorswimm Post author

      Well for example, with the masculine gender, you can say “der” (Nominative), “den” (Accusative), “dem” (Dative), or “des” (Genitive) and the declensions follow the same template for the Feminine, Neuter and Plural genders. At its simplest the grammar rule can be boiled down to, “Der is used for subjects, den for direct objects, dem for indirect objects and des for possession.” What makes this so versatile though is that all nouns follow this declension pattern so it does open a rare opportunity for wordplay in German, where you can say essentially the same sentence but switch up the cases and convey completely different meanings. Being able to do this will add nuance to the story by opening up a door to let the wit of some characters shine through. German may not be a conventionally beautiful language but a lot of its strength lies in its grammatical versatility in terms of description, and the foundation of this versatility is its case system, but the dependence on the grammar does up the ante in terms of editing because it becomes necessary to ensure that all the grammar is in order so meaning can be portrayed correctly. So by going through and nitpicking the grammatical declension in my story, I’m ensuring that the nuance with which I tried to communicate Nehmet’s journey is brought to the reader intact.


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