286 The Loom of Language
Passive expression follows the German pattern (p. 298) with the auxiliary
word-wordt-worden (present), werd-werden (past)
Owing to the ease with which it is possible to recognize the equi-
valence of Dutch words and English words of Teutonic stock, as also
to the relative simplicity of its flexional system which, with Danish,
stands near to English, Dutch would be a very easy language for anyone
already at home with Anglo-American if it shared the features of word-
order common to English, Scandinavian dialects, and French As we
shall now see, the chief difficulties arise in connexion with the con-
struction of the sentence.
GERMAN WORD ORDER
The most important difference between English and the two Ger-
manic languages is the order of words It is so great that half the work
of translating a passage from a German or Dutch book remains to be
done when the meaning of all the individual words is clear, especially if
it conveys new information or deals with abstract issues Were it
otherwise, the meaning of any piece of simple Dutch prose would be
transparent to an English-speaking reader who had spent an hour or so
examining the Table of Particles, etc, elsewhere in The Loom of Lan-
guage To make rapid progress in reading Dutch or German, it is
therefore essential to absorb the word-pattern of the printed page One
suggestion which may help the reader to apply the rules given in the
preceding paragraph appears on p 166
How the meaning of the simplest narrative may be obscured by the
unfanulianty of the arrangement of words, unless the reader is attuned to
it by the painless effort of previous exeicise in syntactical translation^ can
be seen from the following word-for-word translation of a passage from
one of Hoffmann's Tales
"Have you now reasonable become, my dear lord Count/' sneered
the gipsy "I thought to me indeed that itself the money find would
For I have you indeed always as a prudent and intelligent man known "
"Indeed thou shalt it have, but under one condition "
"And that sounds?"
"That thou now nor never to the young Count the secret of his
birth betray Thou hast it surely not perhaps already done?"
"Aye, there must I indeed a real dunce be," replied Rollet laughing
"Rather had I from me myself the tongue out-cut No, no, about that
can you yourself becalm For if I him it told had, so would he his way
to the Lady mother certainly even without me already found have "
To write German correctly it is necessary to know its archaic system