Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Out of my head

A semester or two ago, I was telling my German students that in order to be proficient they would have to memorize all of the definite and indefinite article forms, plus corresponding adjective endings, for all four grammatical cases and all three genders, plus the plural. The obvious pain in their faces led me to say something like, "It's not that bad. You've memorized a lot harder things than that already."

Which started me wondering: How much memorized stuff is floating around in my head? I don't mean odd little facts (date of the Battle of Austerlitz: Dec. 2, 1805; number of times Babe Ruth struck out, 1,330) or bits of doggerel ("you are my candy, girl, and you've got me wanting you"). I mean songs, poems, tables of data -- more or less permanent additions to the body of things I can recite from memory.

It's not something I'm particularly talented at or have worked very hard at. But it strikes me that there is quite a bit of stuff in there, and I thought it might be interesting, at least to me, to write some of it down. So that's what I will do here, from time to time, under this heading.

No doubt I will get some stuff wrong. Your corrections are not welcome. The goal is not to reflect the world as it is but as it exists inside my head.

It will be boring stuff, mostly, I suppose. Skeptics are welcome to skip anything they see under this heading.

For openers, let's try those German endings:

Definite articles:

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative der kleine Wagen das kleine Bier die kleine Jacke die kleinen Jacken
Accusative den kleinen Wagen das kleine Bier die kleine Jacke die kleinen Jacken
Dative dem kleinen Wagen dem kleinen Bier der kleinen Jacke den kleinen Jacken
Genitive des kleinen Wagens des kleinen Biers der kleinen Jacke der kleinen Jacken

Indefinite articles:
Nominative Neuter Feminine Plural
Nom. ein kleiner Wagen ein kleines Bier eine kleine Jacke keine kleinen Jacken
Acc. einen kleinen Wagen ein kleines Bier eine kleine Jacke keine kleinen Jacken
Dat. einem kleinen Wagen einem kleinen Bier einer kleinen Jacke keinen kleinen Jacken
Gen. eines kleinen Wagens eines kleinen Biers einer kleinen Jacke keiner kleinen Jacken

Adjectives unpreceded by an article

Nom. kleiner Wagen kleines Bier kleine Jacke kleine Jacken
Acc. kleinen Wagen kleines Bier kleine Jacke kleine Jacken
Dat. kleinem Wagen kleinem Bier kleiner Jacke kleinen Jacken

See, that wasn't so bad. But there will be a test.

UPDATE: It made a nice table in the draft version. Here, not so good. Sorry.

2 comments:

Dave Rye said...

Good thing you don't teach Latin or we'd be reviewing this blog entry in the Accusative Case.

Ann said...

Thanks for the German lesson!

I had to take a year of "reading" German for my undergrad degree (no language lab. I learned more about English in that year that I did in the 12 years of prior schooling.