Intuitive Vocabulary: German
English and German are sister languages, but as sometimes happens in families, time and distance have taken their toll, and their shared roots are not always visible. This book allows English speakers to recover these original ties and use their native knowledge of English to more easily acquire German vocabulary.
A great learning tool for students of German, and for lovers of English! More
English and German are sister languages, but time and distance have taken their toll and today it is often difficult to identify the words common to both languages. This book tries to recover some of the shared lexicon, and thereby allow English speakers to more easily recognize—and more easily learn—German vocabulary.
The German “Feld” and the English “field” can be traced to the same historical source, and so are cognates. The first part of this book is a lexicon of such cognates, with German words set in bold, and their English cognates set in SMALL CAPS, as follows:
Since "Feld" means field, the English cognate is also a translation of the German word. This is a relatively simple example, but others are more complicated. For one thing, the consonants of the German and English words do not always correspond in the same manner as "Feld"-Field. Let’s consider these German numbers and their English cognates:
The German numbers mean the same as their English cognates, but they do not line up as neatly as "Feld"–Field. The German word for “two” starts with a z, the English with a t; while the German word for “three” starts with a d, the English with a th. These differences make the German words appear much more foreign to the English speaker. However, as it happens, German z regularly corresponds to English t, and German d regularly corresponds to English th. This means that once you learn these correspondences, it is much easier to recognize how similar the German word is to its English cognate. The cognates lexicon that makes up the first part of the book contains twelve chapters, the first lists cognates that correspond in all their consonants (like Feld-FIELD), and the rest are divided by correspondence. Chapter 3 lists cognates in which the German z, ss, and tz correspond to English t, and that is where zwei-TWO is listed; chapter 9 lists cognates in which the German d corresponds to English th, and that is where drei-THREE is listed. Some words exhibit more than one sound-correspondence
The relationship between cognates is also complicated by the fact that the meaning of words sometimes changes over time. When this happens, the English cognate no longer means the same as the German word, and so additional information is necessary, so I provide the cognate, two vertical lines (║) marking the shift, and then the current meaning. For example:
"stören": Stir ║ disturb, annoy, harass
This entry indicates that "stören" and Stir are historically related, but, over time, the meaning of one or both changed so that today "stören" does not mean "stir," but rather “disturb, annoy, harass.” Nonetheless, the idea behind this book is that recognizing the link between the words makes it easier for and English speaker to learn the word "stören". This is especially true when traces of the German meaning are still visible, for example when we speak metaphorically of someone “stirring up trouble.”
Each chapter is divided into “basic vocabulary” and “more advanced vocabulary.” The first category consists of words generally introduced in the early stages of the study of German—family relations, colors, basic foods, common verbs and adjectives, and the like. The “more advanced vocabulary” rubric does not necessarily mean that the words are more difficult, just less likely to be found in beginning textbooks.
The book’s second part arranges the entries of the lexicon under different rubrics, allowing students to examine the vocabulary pertaining to a certain theme, without searching through the entire lexicon.
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