Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Monday, January 21, 2013

How to Pronounce German "ch"

There is quite a bit of misinformation out there on the web when it comes to the way German speakers pronounce "ch," a digraph (pair of letters representing a single sound) that appears very frequently in German words. So, let me set the record straight (follow the link below).

Main page

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wild Things... now available as iBook

And if I may say so myself, it looks great in iBooks on the iPad. iBooks Author, which I used to produce this version, makes it easy to add bells and whistles (like audio clips as pronunciation aids):

Friday, January 4, 2013

Word of the Month: Verlegenheitslösung

A Verlegenheit is a difficulty one may find oneself in, tinged with a whiff of embarrassment, and a Lösung is a solution. In combination, they indicate a solution that is less than ideal, the result of necessity rather than choice—there simply was no better alternative available. The so-called fiscal cliff deal we were treated to two days ago looks very much like a Verlegenheitslösung to me—nobody is happy with it, but something better was not doable, and everybody has some 'xplaining to do to their respective constituents.

In Germany, I find the term used particularly often in connection with personnel decisions, like when a coach names someone to a team only because the usual starter or substitute is injured. The whiff of embarrassment comes into play because the implication is that the team does not have enough depth to field a better replacement. It's this whiff that distinguishes a Verlegenheitslösung from what's called in English a stop-gap solution. In addition, it may not (temporarily) stop a gap: A less-than qualified cabinet member, who was a Verlegenheitslösung when appointed, may last for the entire term of a government.