Here’s a quick break from moving nonsense to talk about learning another language.
I’m practicing my German every day with hopes of more intense studying once I’m done writing my book. It’s slow-going because I’m self-teaching. It’s also a difficult language to learn. Rewarding though. Learning something new about German feels much more satisfying than those years I spent conjugating irregular verbs in high school French class. Hearing the German students converse with the German exchange student while we were still learning how to count in French pissed me off.
But like French, German has several different words for every article, depending on the tense. The table is different from I like the table is different from I like the table by the carpet. In English, the is interchangeable; in German, there are 3 different uses of the — der, den, and dem. For instance, der Tisch is just the table, a simple subject — der because Tisch is a masculine noun. But, when a masculine noun becomes the object of a sentence, that der becomes den and you wind up with ich mag den Tisch, or I like the table. BUT! There are MORE rules! When a masculine noun becomes the indirect object of a sentence, the article changes YET AGAIN! This time it becomes dem — so I like the table by the carpet becomes ich mag den Tisch neben dem Teppish because der Teppish is also a masculine noun. I have to think about all of this when I’m formulating a sentence in my dumb American English brain, which makes me very slow on the German speaking-part.
Germans (like the French) gendering nouns is irritating because not only do I have to sort nouns into masculine and feminine nouns, but there’s a new category of neuter nouns, too. One would think that inanimate objects would be all neuter and use the article das, but nope. Some do, some don’t. There’s no pattern. I tried to find some pattern in what was masculine versus what was feminine and found a few helpful cheat sheets, but overall, there were a lot of exceptions and antipatterns. My main method of memorizing nouns is to just remember the feminine ones and a few of the neuter ones and the rest will fall into place (matriarchy!). That seems to be helping.
This is a funny anecdote, but Duolingo agrees that I’m a witch, often with one eye. I’ll take it.