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Where had you learnt German? - UniLang

Where had you learnt German?

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KonoMichi
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Where had you learnt German?

Postby KonoMichi » 2011-08-30, 20:23

I really want to start learning German hardcore, but I didn't know where, and then I came up with this idea: Why won't I open a thread, asking people about that, and use this information in order to learn German for the best? (I'm an interesant XD)
Well... Where had you learnt your German? How did you do that? What method did you use in order to learn it?
Danke!
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linguoboy
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2011-08-30, 20:32

KonoMichi wrote:Well... Where did you learn your German? How did you do that? What method did you use in order to learn it?

I wanted to take German in secondary school but couldn't. I managed to get my hands on some cheap teach-yourself books (Cortina Method, similar to Berlitz but much less well known) and worked my way through a couple of the chapters in the German volume. It was enough to test my way out of a the first quarter of college-level German. I studied it for two years but didn't become conversational until I was able to enroll in a German university for a year.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

qwert
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby qwert » 2011-09-01, 19:46

KonoMichi wrote:Well... Where had you learnt your German? How did you do that? What method did you use in order to learn it?
Danke!

Where (did you learn or have you learned) German is the correct syntax.

If you want to take it seriously you can sign up for one of these courses offered by the Goethe Institut in Tel-Aviv. http://www.goethe.de/ins/il/tel/lrn/deu/heindex.htm. Yeah, it's rather pricey :)
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linguoboy
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2011-09-01, 20:08

qwert wrote:Where (did you learn or have you learned) German is the correct syntax.

They have different meanings, though. Ironically, the perfect (have learned) implies that the process is still ongoing whereas the simple past (did learn) suggests that it's completed.

(It may be a relief to know that this particular contrast doesn't exist in German.)
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby qwert » 2011-09-01, 22:42

:)

Your'e absolutely right. I gave him both the simple past (which is what I'd use here) and the perfect because I wanted to show him the right way of using the perfect tense in this kind of question.
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Prowler
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Prowler » 2014-12-16, 17:52

Well, when I got into 10th grade back in 2005, my HS course offered a couple of language options: Latin and German. Latin you could just sign up for it, but German was an alternative to French. I've had French since 7th grade as every Portuguese person has(at least back then). At the time, my HS was one of the few in Lisbon that offered German, while in most others you had French from 7th to 12th grade. Anyway, I disliked French and struggled at it, especially in 9th grade(barely passed), so things weren't obviously gonna get easier from then on. I basically picked German because I'd start a new language from scratch. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect of it or had any opinion on the language at all. I ended up liking it a lot in my first year. The next two not so much, but school makes everything boring if you have not so good teachers. And as a teenager, it's hard to care about school much. It just feels like a chore.

I finished HS with a pretty average grade in German. I kinda felt disappointed that after 3 years of having it in school, I had learnt jack. Could barely say "Ich heisse..." anymore. Some years later, in late 2011, I decided to buy a couple of introductory books to German in order to re-learn the language. As you all know, school isn't the best place to become fluent in a foreign language. Since then, I've been learning German on my own. I try to learn a word or two every day. And try to listen to German music or read a newspaper article or another every time I can. In the last couple of years I've learnt a lot more German than I did in HS.

So yea, I guess you can say I've been learning it on my own.
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby benjamino59 » 2015-01-07, 8:17

KonoMichi wrote:Well... Where had you learnt your German? How did you do that? What method did you use in order to learn it?


I had German in middle school for two years, and I didn't really do any thing to learn it outside of class other than learning some common slang and expressions. After middle school I didn't really use it for anything. Now I'm trying to relearn it by reading, watching movies and learning some grammar.
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Woods » 2015-01-09, 21:58

Almost like linguoboy, I was forced to choose between French and German (couldn’t take both at the same time as first language) and I took French. After that, German was just missing – I felt like I was supposed to be able to speak it but I wasn’t. And meanwhile I listened to a lot of Neue Deutsche Härte.

linguoboy, Isn’t it more like both tenses express completeness, and the one that would mean the process is still ongoing would be “Where have you been learning…?”

To me “Where have you learnt” sounds further in the past, but maybe my English is not as perfect here?

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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-01-09, 22:17

Woods wrote:Almost like linguoboy, I was forced to choose between French and German (couldn’t take both at the same time as first language) and I took French.
I wasn't offered a choice which included German. The only languages offered at my high school were French, Spanish, and Latin.

Woods wrote:linguoboy, Isn’t it more like both tenses express completeness, and the one that would mean the process is still ongoing would be “Where have you been learning…?”

To me “Where have you learnt” sounds further in the past, but maybe my English is not as perfect here?
There's a difference between "ongoing" and "incomplete". Using the present progressive emphasises that the action is in process at the time of speaking (or is scheduled to commence very soon) whereas the present perfect just implies that it may not be over yet.

It's difficult to explain the contrast between the simple past and the present perfect concisely (and it doesn't help matters that many speakers use the simple past where others would only use the perfect) but in general the simple past is used for things considered less relevant to the present time, either because they are further past or because they are definitively over. For instance:

(1) "It's been a good day"
(2) "It was a good day."

(2) implies that the day is over. It's something I might use in the evening when telling my husband about my work, for instance (in which case I'm not counting our evening together as part of my "day" for the purposes of rendering judgment). If I were talking about a day other than today, it's the only option. Using (1) to refer to yesterday or the day before would be highly unidiomatic. I would be genuinely confused as to what the speaker meant.
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Woods
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Woods » 2015-01-09, 22:44

I wasn't offered a choice which included German. The only languages offered at my high school were French, Spanish, and Latin.


Well, to me it was a matter of choosing the school – I could pick one that taught German or one that taught French. But none of them taught both as the first language, unfortunately :D

(1) "It's been a good day"
(2) "It was a good day."

(2) implies that the day is over. It's something I might use in the evening when telling my husband about my work, for instance (in which case I'm not counting our evening together as part of my "day" for the purposes of rendering judgment). If I were talking about a day other than today, it's the only option. Using (1) to refer to yesterday or the day before would be highly unidiomatic. I would be genuinely confused as to what the speaker meant.


This is clear, but to me “It’s been a good day” is a different tense than “Where have you learnt German.” The equivalent to the former would be “Where have you been learning German.” I know it cannot be used if the process is over. But what about “Where have you learnt German?” And compared to “Where did you learn German,” doesn’t it sound more like an event that was not witnessed, but that is also over like the past simple?

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linguoboy
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-01-09, 22:56

Woods wrote:This is clear, but to me “It’s been a good day” is a different tense than “Where have you learnt German.” The equivalent to the former would be “Where have you been learning German.” I know it cannot be used if the process is over.
They are both the same tense: non-past. And they are both the same aspect: perfect. "It's been a good day" just happens to lack a corresponding progressive form.

What I said about the time restriction applies equally to both progressive and non-progressive forms, however. *"It's been a good day yesterday" is as unidiomatic as *"Where have you been learning German yesterday?". If I heard either from a native speaker, I would assume it to be a production error.

Woods wrote:But what about “Where have you learnt German?” And compared to “Where did you learn German,” doesn’t it sound more like an event that was not witnessed, but that is also over like the past simple?
Except that, as I said, "Where did you learn German?" implies that your days of learning German are over and "Where have you learnt German?" does not. Again, compare:

"Where have you learn German so far?"
*"Where did you learn German so far?"

"So far" implies that the action is going to continue, and that connotation is incompatible with simple past, but not with present perfect.

(I'm not sure what being witnessed has to do with anything. Unlike Bulgarian, English lacks evidentiality as a grammaticalised distinction.)
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Woods » 2015-01-09, 23:29

Well, apparently “Where have you learnt German” is a tense form which I’m not used to and I’m using Bulgarian to make sense of it, which messes up the way I understand it.

The way I would say this is “Where have you been learning German.” When you put both phrases next to “so far,” they sound almost the same and I can see what you mean.

But if we take off the witnessing aspect, the phrase “Where have you learnt German” starts sounding unnatural and incomplete to me. Is it idiomatic? And is it exactly the same as “Where have you been learning German” or is there a difference? If I am to find the difference, now I’d say that “Where have you learnt…” puts the stress more on the achievement, whereas “Where have you been learning…” will put it on the action itself. But still “Where have you learnt German” is something I’m not that used to.

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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-01-10, 2:26

Woods wrote:Well, apparently “Where have you learnt German” is a tense form which I’m not used to and I’m using Bulgarian to make sense of it, which messes up the way I understand it.
As I said, strictly speaking, it's not a tense form and thinking of it as such might be part of the confusion. It's an aspectual construction which places past events into a present context.

Woods wrote:But if we take off the witnessing aspect, the phrase “Where have you learnt German” starts sounding unnatural and incomplete to me. Is it idiomatic?
Yes.

Woods wrote:And is it exactly the same as “Where have you been learning German” or is there a difference?
No. As I explained before, progressive constructions foreground the ongoing nature of an activity. Compare:

"Where have you worked?" (Tell me all the places you have worked at before.)
"Where have you been working?" (Tell me where you are currently working.)

If I ask you, "Where have you been learning German?" it implies that you are currently actively studying the language and that I don't care about where you may have studied it in the past.
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Woods » 2015-01-10, 7:58

"Where have you worked?" (Tell me all the places you have worked at before.)
"Where have you been working?" (Tell me where you are currently working.)


Well, it seems that even though I was using the wrong idea to make sense of it, I was still able to feel which one should be used in a particular situation. The only thing is that I would always add something to "Where have you worked?" – e.g. “Where have you worked before?” (now I can see this one is messed up) or “Where have you worked so far?”

Thanks for the clarification.

I’m not getting into the tense/aspect distinction because to me they’re all tenses. Maybe there are more refined ways to speak about it, but I haven’t read that much grammar.

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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-01-10, 18:20

Woods wrote:I’m not getting into the tense/aspect distinction because to me they’re all tenses. Maybe there are more refined ways to speak about it, but I haven’t read that much grammar.
"Tense" is used informally in English to mean "any part of a verbal paradigm". In linguistics, however, "tense" is the category covering reference only to the timing of an action (either in absolute or relative terms). The category which characterises an action according to how it relates to the flow of time is called "aspect". And then there's "mood" or "modality", which characterises actions or observations in relation to the speaker's attitude. "Evidentiality" (the speaker's evidence for a given utterance) is sometimes considered a type of modality and sometimes considered an independent category.

So, from that point of view, English has only one tense distinction: past/non-past. (The so-called "future tense" is actually a modal construction, since what it encodes is not strictly future time but the speaker's attitude toward an event which may or may have come to pass yet.) It has two aspectual distinctions, perfect/non-perfect and progressive/non-progressive, both of which are expressed paraphrastically, and a range of modal auxiliaries.

German is rather similar when it comes to tense and modality, but not aspect. Outside of dialects (notably Ruhrpott), progressive constructions are rare. There is a perfect construction, but many speakers make no grammatical distinction between it and the preterite. In general, these are considered simply stylistic variants with the preterite being more literary (due to its near complete absence from southern dialects).
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby Woods » 2015-01-13, 21:40

“the category covering (…) the timing of an action” vs. what “characterises an action according to how it relates to the flow of time…” Maybe because it’s late in the evening, because I haven’t slept that much the last couple of days or because of something else, you got me really confused :D I’ll give it a couple more thoughts when my head is fresher.

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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-01-13, 22:01

Woods wrote:“the category covering (…) the timing of an action” vs. what “characterises an action according to how it relates to the flow of time…” Maybe because it’s late in the evening, because I haven’t slept that much the last couple of days or because of something else, you got me really confused :D I’ll give it a couple more thoughts when my head is fresher.
Perhaps you're confused about the definition of timing in English? It simply means "the time at which something happens".

(Rest up before you read this next bit.)

Grammatical tense is divided into two kinds, absolute and relative. In actuality, both are relative. "Absolute tense" is relative to the time of speaking, whereas "relative tense" is relative to a point of time established in the discourse. The pluperfect, for instance, is called an "absolute-relative tense", since it combines an absolute past (i.e. occurring before the moment of speaking) with relative past (i.e. occurring before some other point of time established in the discourse). [English lacks a true pluperfect; its functions are handled either by the past perfect or the simple past.]
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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby TeneReef » 2015-01-13, 22:25

I studied lernte German in elementary school and in high school.
I have never learned erlerntit. :mrgreen:
learning:  (ne)  (sv)  (es-ar)  (hi) (Assamese, Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu)

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Re: Where had you learnt German?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-10, 2:21

My dad had studied both German (IIRC, for three years) and Russian (for five, again IIRC) as a university student and was eager to see me learn them, too. When I was very little, I must have learned bits and pieces of both from him (and of various other languages as well, either from family or from his colleagues at work), but I think when I started seriously studying languages, I stuck with French and stubbornly resisted my dad's attempts to get me to learn German (in fact, I resisted everyone's attempts to get me to learn anything else). He tried at least a few tricks to get me to learn it, but nothing was working.

Finally, he got me this. I used it to learn French, but he tried to make me learn German from it, too. I wanted to use it to learn Spanish before moving on to German, but he was so impatient for me to at least try to start learning German from it that I did that right after French. He kept telling me how eager he was to see me learn German and joking around about how then I could start sounding like Hitler making these impassioned speeches with lots of strongly trilled [r]s in them, but when I started using this to learn German, I discovered to my delight and his disappointment that they used a uvular rhotic like in French, not an alveolar one. And it stuck. Now that I had learned something about German even my dad did not know despite all the time he spent studying German as diligently as he could, I was eager to learn more. Within a few months, I learned it well enough for my dad to admit that I knew it better than he did.

I kept studying it at home by myself until the summer before I turned fourteen, when I was finally allowed to take a test to skip one German class and take the next class the following year. I studied all the books I had and passed the test with flying colors, took as many years of German classes in school as I possibly could, and participated in local German-language competitions (there are at least two every year down here). I still mostly learned it at home by myself, though.


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