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The Lernen to Talk Show: Episode 22 – Siddhartha!

January 24, 2012

Hallo liebe Leute! My 22nd week of learning German was my first one to be spent entirely outside of Germany. This episode was filmed on Christmas Day in beautiful Leamington Spa, England. Because there were no Germans around, I was forced invite an inanimate object onto the show to be my guest. It was a humbling experience, revealing that despite my progress I still have a very long way to go before I can call myself fluent in German.

Thanks to Kelvin for filming! And to Jean-Claude and Elisabeth for the book!

1:58 – Since editing this video, I’ve realized that I wasn’t as far off as I thought. Salwald literally does mean a forest of Sal trees (Wald meaning “forest”). The subtitle here contains an error on my part. The shala tree is also known as a sal tree, making this a pretty straightforward translation.

2:06 – “Salt” in German is Salz. It was an educated guess. But alas, much like people, not all educated guesses are intelligent.

2:22 – Words having to do with food will never come easily to me.

2:27 – Confident! But wrong. I would’ve fooled me. “He woke up” would have been “wachte Siddhartha auf,” NOT “wuchs Siddhartha auf.”

2:36 – I still don’t understand what this falcon business is.

3:02 – “Brahmin” is more of a title than a name, I now realize…

3:49 – I should have paid closer attention to the previous week’s episode! Then I would have noticed how Tobi called Christmas Eve Heiliger Abend, or “holy (sacred) night”.

3:56 – And I chose this book because I remembered it being fairly straightforward in English.

4:01 – One of the translations offered by is in fact “washing”! So I got the gist of it… just not the fancy definition.

So, how did I do? Here’s the full text, portions I misunderstood highlighted in red.

“Im Schatten des Hauses, in der Sonne des Flußufers bei den Booten, im Schatten des Salwaldes, im Schatten des Feigenbaumes wuchs Siddhartha auf, der schöne Sohn des Brahmanen, der junge Falke, zusammen mit Govinda, seinem Freunde, dem Brahmanensohn. Sonne bräunte seine lichten Schultern am Flußufer, beim Bade, bei den heiligen Waschungen, bei den heiligen Opfern.”

Of the 55 words found in these two sentences, I understood 42.5 of them, putting me at a comprehension rate of 77%. But seeing as my sample size was diminutive, and that statistic completely arbitrary in terms of what it says about my understanding, my recommendation is that you don’t read that previous sentence.

Here’s the text in English. It will give you an idea of just how comma-happy the German language really is:

“In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near the boats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig tree is where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the young falcon, together with his friend Govinda, son of a Brahman. The sun tanned his light shoulders by the banks of the river when bathing, performing the sacred ablutions, the sacred offerings.”

Hesse is not amused.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 22:00

    I guess I should amend that to children and CLASSIC WORKS OF LITERATURE are difficult in foreign languages! You did great!! and HAHA re: Lernen to Read Show! yay Mickey 😀

  2. Avital permalink
    January 27, 2012 10:20

    On my first day in Germany we went to the Berliner Dom and the tour guide kept referring to “der Heilige Geist.” It was probably the first German phrase I learned.

    • January 27, 2012 10:24

      Was that the same Dom that was across from an identical Dom called the Französischer Dom? Me and Patrick saw an awesome Bach concert in the Französischer Dom.

      • January 27, 2012 20:43

        No, the Berliner Dom is a cathedral near East Berlin that was bombed in WWII. I think you and Patrick went to the Gendarmenmarkt.


  1. “Stufen” von Hermann Hesse | German Language Blog

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