French / German Bilingual

I am still studying German. I have now read two books on the German language so I’m familiar with the grammar and I have a small vocabulary. I plan to go to Berlin for my vacation some time during April 2011 so I still have a year to learn more of the language.

Since I can read a little French, I thought it would be useful to buy some French books on the German language. France and Germany are neighboring countries so there are a wide variety of language learning materials available. The Alsace-Lorraine territory has been claimed by both Germany and France after various wars so that part of France has an unique Franco-German cultural heritage.

One of the books I bought is “Nouvelles allemandes contemporaines, édition bilingue“. The word “œnouvelles” could be the adjective “new” in the plural but the German title “Deutsche heutige Kurzerzählungen“ means “Contemporary German Short Stories” so “œnouvelles” is probably the French word for novelettes.

There are advantages to reading a bilingual book where neither of the languages is English. It reinforces my knowledge of  both languages simultaneously to see the relationship between German and French. It gives me more confidence in my French when I can use the French text to make out the German text. And it eliminates my reliance on English. You can’t learn another language very well as long as you continue to rely on your native tongue.

Let’ go through an example of how the French can help you learn the German. This sentence in French is easier for me to understand than the German:

“Ah, votre père est mort? Cela me fait de la peine.”

Oh, so your father is dead? That makes me … Hm, I not quite sure what “la peine” means. It could be idiomatic. However, the German helps to make the meaning clear:

“So ist Ihr Vater tot? Das tut mir leid.”

This translates more precisely as “So your father is dead? I’m sorry.” And according to babLa, we can see that the expression faire de la peine means to feel sorry. I already have the German verb tun – to do in my notes so I can see that the last sentence literally could be read as “That makes me sorry.”. So comparing the French to the German really helps to clarify many aspects of the languages.

Pièges de la Grammaire Allemande: Peter Punin: Livres

ISBN: 2759005062
ISBN-13: 9782759005062

I also bought a French book on German grammar. This is useful for giving me the French vocabulary for German grammar. For example, in French the four declensions are; Nominatif, Accusatif, Datif, and Génitif. Once I’ve learned more German, I’ll try to find some German textbooks on the French language.

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One Response to French / German Bilingual

  1. Not sure I’d read a German / French bilingual book unless the translation was especially recommended. I used to read German / English bilingual books (literature) where the German was authentic and it didn’t matter to me that the English was stilted: I wasn’t really reading the English, I just wanted to know what was going on. Sometimes the English was strange enough that I had to untangle the mess with a dictionary anyway. This leads me to wonder if the French side of your German / French book might do more harm than good. Generally I just read books in the original (Russian, French, German) and use a dictionary. Get a few books under your belt and you won’t need a dictionary.

    For Russian and German, I found studying poetry very worthwhile.

    For getting an ear for a language, try listening to Deutsche Welle and Radio France Internationale on the web. They have podcasts too. I often listen to the news on DW and RFI.


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