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Old 27.04.2009, 12:19
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Learning German (SA Background)

Hi there,

This question pertains mainly to South African people living in Switzerland who have learnt to speak German.

Based on the premise that Afrikaans(I am fluent), is a good head start, how difficult is it to learn to speak German, at least passable for everyday communication.

I have the added benefit of being able to speak passable Russian as I have a Russian wife and I have studied it part-time for 3 years. My cursory look at German grammar indicates to me that their are some familiar concepts ie Accusative/Dative cases etc.

When reading Germans many of the word stems look familiar and to more or less of a degree, depending of subject matter, I recognise a lot of words owing to my knowledge of Afrikaans and can pretty much make out the general gist of the text.

I am thinking that based on all this my learning curve may not be as steep and my progress more rapid(Obviously dependent on effort as well).

Can anybody comment on whether my perceptions are correct?
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Old 03.05.2009, 17:53
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Re: Learning German (SA Background)

Hey, there!

Well, I am German and I learned Dutch for half year. It was not that difficult due to the fact, that these languages are very similar. And as far as I can tell, it is the same with Afrikaans, which is very close related to the Dutch language.

Based on my impression of Dutch vs. German I think, that it would be pretty easy for you to learn a very broad vocabulary and also the right pronunciationof the words. The major difficulty will be the extremly complex German grammar. But I assume that you will make faster progress than people with other native languages.

I hope I could help you out a little ;-)
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Old 03.05.2009, 18:42
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Re: Learning German (SA Background)

Hi Sunnysan,

I grew up in Johannesburg. My first language is English but I learnt Afrikaans for 12 years during school. As soon as I finished school I forgot almost everything about Afrikaans.

Six years later I came over to Switzerland and being around a mixture of German speaking people quickly started drudging Afrikaans words out of my mind. The next year I started with German classes and within two years was working in a job where I spoke only German. When I tell people that I have been here for four years they are often impressed and compliment my ability to speak German.

As rusty as my Afrikaans knowledge was (and as non existent as it is now) it helped with vocabulary and grammar. I am still amused when I learn new Swiss German words and discover they are closer to Afrikaans words than the High German words.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03.05.2009, 21:11
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Re: Learning German (SA Background)

Afrikaans and German belong to the same group of Germanic languages so there should be lot of similarities. Just the spelling and new vocabulary and grammar might be a bit of a problem as Afrikaanse is very simplified in terms of grammar usage.
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Old 06.05.2009, 09:53
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Re: Learning German (SA Background)

Thanks for the useful replies people.

I am in the intermediate stages of learning Russian so I was hoping for something a bit less painful than that and it seems my assumptions where correct.

Its actually strange but , in Russian there are many words that are similar to Afrikaans too, possibly owing to proximity between traditional slavic regions and germanic regions

ie Meubel, Apteek, soldaat, papegaai all have similar Russian equivalents.

That being said the hardest thing at the moment is trying to find a job in CH. Looks like its getting better but still tough.
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