German Translation Exam Success - Three Tips For How to Unravel Those Convoluted German Sentences

Author : shirlenesword
Publish Date : 2020-12-29


German Translation Exam Success - Three Tips For How to Unravel Those Convoluted German Sentences

Are you intimidated by long German sentences? You're not alone. The interesting thing is that they don't have to be quite so scary. Read on to find out some keys to cracking their secret code.

I grew up speaking German, so I didn't face the challenges you're dealing with, at least not with German. However, I also studied Latin, and if you think German sentences are convoluted, try Latin ones, especially those by Caesar or Cicero in their original versions.

So I found Latin just as challenging, and for the exact same reasons why you find German challenging. Luckily, I had a friend who was a terrific teacher of Latin. One day, he sat me down, and asked me to translate a sentence, out loud. I started , and halfway through the sentences, already knowing I had gotten derailed somewhere since the sentence made no sense, he said, "Aha! I thought so!"

"What?" I wanted to know. And he told me that I had approached the sentence all wrong: I started from left to right. That's what feels natural to most of us, and especially to native speakers of English. That's because most English (and also a lot of German) sentences are arranged that way. Here's what you need to do to unravel those long German sentences.

1) Start with the right plan of attack

Starting from left to right makes sense in English, but it doesn't work well with Latin, and it can also get you in trouble with German. Why? Because both Latin and German have complexities of word order that will cause problems if you tackle sentences with the linear approach.

2) Find the verb

Instead, start by finding the verb, and by figuring out what other parts of speech it tends to come with. Then go looking for those. If there is any kind of ambiguity, try both versions of the sentence and go with the one that makes more sense.

3) Get a tutor and practice

As you practice translating, you need feedback, and lots of it. Otherwise, you'll never know for sure if you got it right. It's like learning how to throw darts with a blindfold on and no feedback about how well you did.

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And so the best approach to studying German in preparation for your exam is to study in groups, or get a tutor or coach so you can get feedback. Best of all, study in groups and hire a tutor or coach to work with you. If your coach has a lot of experience with translating complicated German sentences, so much the better. Getting on top of those sentences is really the key to getting good at translating from German to English. All the right words will only help if you know how they properly relate to each other.
So I found Latin just as challenging, and for the exact same reasons why you find German challenging. Luckily, I had a friend who was a terrific teacher of Latin. One day, he sat me down, and asked me to translate a sentence, out loud. I started , and halfway through the sentences, already knowing I had gotten derailed somewhere since the sentence made no sense, he said, "Aha! I thought so!"

"What?" I wanted to know. And he told me that I had approached the sentence all wrong: I started from left to right. That's what feels natural to most of us, and especially to native speakers of English. That's because most English (and also a lot of German) sentences are arranged that way. Here's what you need to do to unravel those long German sentences.

1) Start with the right plan of attack

Starting from left to right makes sense in English, but it doesn't work well with Latin, and it can also get you in trouble with German. Why? Because both Latin and German have complexities of word order that will cause problems if you tackle sentences with the linear approach.

2) Find the verb

Instead, start by finding the verb, and by figuring out what other parts of speech it tends to come with. Then go looking for those. If there is any kind of ambiguity, try both versions of the sentence and go with the one that makes more sense.

3) Get a tutor and practice

As you practice translating, you need feedback, and lots of it. Otherwise, you'll never know for sure if you got it right. It's like learning how to throw darts with a blindfold on and no feedback about how well you did.

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Category :education
Author Website : Microsoft

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