Γιατί να μάθω γερμανικά;
Υπάρχουν πολλοί λόγοι για να μάθει κανείς τη γερμανική γλώσσα:
Τα Γερμανικά είναι η περισσότερο ομιλούμενη μητρική γλώσσα στην Ευρώπη. Όποιος μιλάει Γερμανικά μπορεί να επικοινωνήσει με 100 εκ. Ευρωπαίους στη μητρική τους γλώσσα.
Η Γερμανία είναι ο σημαντικότερος εμπορικός εταίρος της Ελλάδας. Περίπου 180 γερμανικές εταιρίες προσφέρουν στην Ελλάδα συνολικά 19.000 θέσεις εργασίας. Περίπου 1,2 εκ. γερμανοί τουρίστες επισκέπτονται κάθε χρόνο την Ελλάδα. Οι ξένες γλώσσες, άρα και η γνώση των Γερμανικών, βελτιώνουν σημαντικά τις δυνατότητες επαγγελματικής σταδιοδρομίας λόγω των διεθνώς παγκοσμιοποιούμενων οικονομικών συνθηκών.
Η Γερμανία αποτελεί ελκυστικό τόπο σπουδών. Με γνώσεις Γερμανικών, ολόκληρο το προσφερόμενο φάσμα σπουδών βρίσκεται στη διάθεση του ενδιαφερόμενου.
Μεταξύ Ελλάδας και Γερμανίας υπάρχουν προσωπικοί δεσμοί λόγω των Ελλήνων μεταναστών στη Γερμανία και των εγκατεστημένων στην Ελλάδα Γερμανών. Η γνώση των Γερμανικών διευκολύνει τη συμβίωση.
Οι ξένες γλώσσες διευρύνουν τον πολιτιστικό, πνευματικό και επαγγελματικό ορίζοντα, ξυπνούν το ενδιαφέρον για άλλους πολιτισμούς. Η πολυγλωσσία είναι σημαντικό προτέρημα – όχι μόνο ενόψει της διεύρυνσης της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης.
Όποιος διαβάζει Γερμανικά δεν έχει μόνο καλύτερη πρόσβαση στα έργα των Goethe, Nietzsche,, Bach, Beethoven, Freud και Einstein. Και στον κόσμο της εικονικής πραγματικότητας είναι προσόν να ξέρει κανείς Γερμανικά: Στο διαδίκτυο τα Γερμανικά είναι η δεύτερη γλώσσα μετά τα Αγγλικά. Το ένα πέμπτο των βιβλίων που εκδίδονται κάθε χρόνο διεθνώς, συνεχίζει να είναι σε γερμανική γλώσσα
|If you deal with Germany or Austria, either as a tourist or for business, speaking German is a key asset. The problem is that you need to speak it well, since the Germans like precision and exactness. They will not like talking to you if you constantly make mistakes. Furthermore, many Germans speak good English and like to show it off. Unless your German is flawless, they'll switch to English.|
|Chic factor||German is a language that few learn for pleasure, and none because it is easy. Consequently, anybody who learned German enjoys a special status and a good measure of chic.|
Few people speak any German, and those who do are seen as exceptional people. I recall attending a trade show in Milan back in the days when I did not speak any Italian. I wanted to ask some questions to a short man at a booth, and asked whether he would rather speak French, English, Spanish or German. He immediately chose German, altough I am quite sure he also spoke some of the others. We spoke in German while all his colleague were looking at him in awe, murmuring Lui parla il tedesco (He speaks German!). Since less than 3% of the Italians speak any German, this Italian was justly proud of his achievement.
|Countries||Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and in regions of Italy and Belgium.|
|Speakers||There are aproximately 75 million German speakers Germany, 7 million in Austria, 260,000 in Luxembourg, 3,400,000 in Switzerland, and about 1,500,000 in Alsace-Lorraine. There are many German speakers in Eastern Europe but the subject is quite sensitive and no statistics are available. The total number of speakers, including non-native speakers such as myself, is said to be 120 millions, but I could not verify this.|
|Economic importance||German is a language of immense economic use in the German-speaking countries. However, it does not enjoy the lingua franca status of English, French or even Spanish. German is useful only when dealing with people whose mother tongue is German, whereas you might speak English to a Taiwanese businessmen or French to a Morrocan.|
German companies manufacture some of the highest quality products available anywhere. In the course of my business I met many people who earn their living by buying various high-priced equipments from Germany, then selling them across the world. A long-term relationship with the German factories is greatly helped if you speak their language.
Germans are demanding but loyal clients. If you speak German, you will get many more clients from Germany than if you could not. I made that experience myself. Even those Germans who speak some English would much rather trust some person who speaks in German if available.
|Travel||Apart from the Germans themselves, you will see very few tourists in Germany. In a way this is a pity since the country has so much to offer, but it also means you get the country for yourself and won't have to cope with hordes of tourists with pink legs and video cameras around the neck.|
Amongst the many beautiful areas that you can travel to on German are the beautiful Bavarian Alps, with the Berchtesgadener Land and its immaculate Königsee, the fairy-tale castles of Ludwig II, the beautiful historical town of Salzburg and the friendly regional capital, Munich. Further in the Alps are our beautiful Swiss cities of Bern and Zurich, as well as Austrian Innsbruck and its captivating Renaissance castle, Schloss Ambras.
There are many other places to visit in Germany, such as Nürnberg with the Dürer house and the remains of the nazi vision of a new Roman Empire, the city of Freiburg-am-Brisgau and its University, the giant metropolis of Berlin and Hamburg, the small picturesque port of Lübeck.
Germany is not a place of gastronomy, and finding a fine dinner should never be taken for granted in Germany and you should make sure you buy the latest German-language Restaurantführer.
|Variations||You should not need to learn any of the numerous German dialects. Every German-speaking region has its own dialect, but usually writes in the regular German (the one you can learn, also known as Hochdeutsch). In the North of Germany, the dialect is Plattdeutsch, in the South East, Bayerisch.|
Although in Germany everybody speaks German without problem, in the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland many people will be confortable only in schwyzertütsch, the local Germanic dialect. Schwyzertütsch is great fun but hard to learn since it is not written and is different in every valley or city.
|Culture||German culture can provide for a lifetime of fulfilling experiences. It is not as easy to embrace as French or Italian culture.|
German TV is abundant - I get more than 50 channels of it. Evening news are very seriös but rather easy to follow. Entertainment programs can be quite fun to watch. On week-ends you can see a typical German Bierhalle where hundreds of middle-aged people are sitting on benches at huge tables, drinking from enormous glasses of beer and eating sausages, while a German popular singer sings German country songs. A German TV presenter in a suit with long, carefully combed hair walks down the aisle and asks the people what they think of the song, the singer or the food. These shows seem to last all weekend and are quite spectacular to watch - for a few minutes.
German newspapers are numerous and some of them are of the highest quality you can find, even if they make for tedious reading and provide little entertainment. You can now read most of them over the Internet for free:
German music comes in two brands. One was written by the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg-Friedrich Haendel, and is played in historical buildings by musicians wearing suits. The other one is heard in huge Bierhalle where grids under the table allow people to urinate while sipping gallons of beer.
German litterature is amazing, with immense authors such as Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Schiller, Goethe and others stacked in the Belletristik section of German bookstores. They are not easy to read, but if you are serious about German you should at least once in your life read one cover to cover.
German history did not start in 1933. There are many interesting historical events, institutions and monuments you can visit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, outside of World War II. But let's face it - if given a choice many people will want to look backstage at what was the war on the German side. And there is much material, some of very high quality. Even if you are not a military buff, you can visit former bunkers, fortifications and remains of that era all over Germany. They make for a grisly but captivating visit. One such book, Hitler's Ende, recently made into a film, gives a detailed account of the last days of the Third Reich, showing how it fell apart and its effect on the German Führer.
German cinema is nowhere near Hollywood in terms of size or budget, but there are enough good films in German available on DVD to keep you busy for a couple years. Most have subtitles in English, but the best is to get subtitles in German. Some great German directors to watch out for are Werner Herzog, who shot incredible movies with his nemesis, actor Klaus Kinski. For young people, a must-see movie is Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run).