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308                The Loom of Language
er mit der Arbeit fertig set ( I asked him if he had finished the job). It
occurs in certain idiomatic expressions, eg the set formula for a
qualified statement in which we might use very nearly
Ich ware fast urns Leben gekommen     I very nearly lost my life
Common idioms are
da war en wirja1                             here we are1
es koste, was es wolk                       cost what it may
es set denn, doss er gelogen habe       unless he hed about it
The grammar of German is difficult, and the aim of the last few
pages has not been to pretend that it is otherwise If we want to file the
innumerable rules and exceptions to the rules in cupboards where we
can find them, the best we can do is to label them as representative
exhibits of speech deformities or evolutionary relics. Many of them are
not essential to anyone who aims at a reading knowledge of the lan-
guage, or to anyone who wishes to talk German or to listen to German
broadcasts For the latter there is some consolation It is much easier
to learn to read, to write, or even to speak most languages correctly
than to interpret them by ear alone. This is not true of German Ger-
mans pronounce individual words clearly, and the involved sentences
of literary German rarely overflow into daily speech No European
language is more easy to recognize when spoken, if the listener has a
serviceable vocabulary of common words There is therefore a sharp
contrast between the merits and defects of German and Chinese.
German combines inflation of word-forms and grammatical conven-
tions with great phonetic clarity Chinese unites a maximum of word-
economy with extreme phonetic subtlety and obscurity.
BRADLEY                 The Making of English
DUFF AND FREUND    The Basis and Essentials of German
GRUNDY                   Brush up your German
TONNELAT                A History of the German Language
WILSON                   The   Student's   Guide to Modern Languages
(A Comparative Study of English, French,
German, and Spanish).
The primers in simplified Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, German,
and Dutch published by Hugo's Language Institute, Teach Yourself
German, Teach Yourself Dutch, Teach Yourself Norwegian, in the Teach
Yourself Books (English University Press)