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Literature Award for NON-NATIVE German language authors

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Dawnstorm

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I finally opted for a literal translation of "a fish out of water".

Heh, we could have thought of that. The idiom exists: "wie ein Fisch am Trockenen".
 

Dawnstorm

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It's actually "wie ein Fisch auf dem Trockenen". ;)

Sounds better. Heh. :eek: (I googled "am" before posting because it sounded slightly off and found plenty of hits. I wonder if it's a more colloquial variant, "am" being a contraction of "auf dem".)
 

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Sounds better. Heh. :eek: (I googled "am" before posting because it sounded slightly off and found plenty of hits. I wonder if it's a more colloquial variant, "am" being a contraction of "auf dem".)
Good thinking, but in this specific case the idea doesn't completely hit the mark. "Am" is actually a contraction of "an dem" (= "next to"). There's no contraction of "auf dem" (= "on").

Oh well, the big ole nasty world of German prepositions and the likes... ;) It's an incredibly complicated language - I am somewhat relieved I never had to learn it as a foreigner but was "born into it".
 

aruna

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Oh well, the big ole nasty world of German prepositions and the likes... ;) It's an incredibly complicated language - I am somewhat relieved I never had to learn it as a foreigner but was "born into it".

Nice to hear you say that. I am constantly humbled by the many German friends I have who speak and write faultless English, yet even after over 30 years in Germany I still make so many mistakes.

Were it not for the der-die-das rules, however, it would be a whole lot easier.
 

Dawnstorm

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Good thinking, but in this specific case the idea doesn't completely hit the mark. "Am" is actually a contraction of "an dem" (= "next to"). There's no contraction of "auf dem" (= "on").

Ah, you're right. It's dialect confusion, on my part (one of the perils of being a native speaker). Several Austrian dialects do have "am" as "auf dem", and even as "auf den". I suppose that's where my confusion comes from.

Edit for examples:

"Des Soiz steht am Disch." = "Das Salz steht auf dem Tisch."
"I geh am Berg." = "Ich gehe auf den Berg."
 
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Scriptissima

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Nice to hear you say that. I am constantly humbled by the many German friends I have who speak and write faultless English, yet even after over 30 years in Germany I still make so many mistakes.
Please, don't undersell yourself. From what I have read above, your German is just marvelous and obviously much (MUCH!) better than many native speakers' German. You're right up there at the same level with all the native German professional writers.
Were it not for the der-die-das rules, however, it would be a whole lot easier.
There are actual "rules"? :D I seriously believe that somebody rolled dice to determine the der-die-das assignment to each noun. If there was a rule, it couldn't possibly be "das Mädchen", "der Rock" and "die Hose". None of that makes sense. :D
Ah, you're right. It's dialect confusion, on my part (one of the perils of being a native speaker). Several Austrian dialects do have "am" as "auf dem", and even as "auf den". I suppose that's where my confusion comes from.
Oh, right, you're located in Austria. I hadn't paid attention to your location. Shame on me.
You're absolutely right about the dialect variations.
 

Dawnstorm

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If there was a rule, it couldn't possibly be "das Mädchen", "der Rock" and "die Hose".

I'm not aware of any regularity for "der Rock" or "die Hose" (which is pretty funny, come to think of it), but "das Mädchen" actually follows a rule.

Noun + -chen (or -lein) = neuter. All (?) diminutives work like that.

Die Maid - Das Mädchen
Der Bub - Das Bübchen

The reason for the oddity of "das Mädchen" is not morphological (what makes a word); it's originally pragmatic (usage related) and now lexical (default words). What this means is that for some reason, very likely patriarchal in nature, "Mädchen" has survived as the default word for "girl", while "Bübchen" is still the diminutive form of "Bub" (which is the default word for "boy").

On a side note: it's interesting that, intuitively, I have no problem with the neuter pronoun. "Das Mädchen" is perfectly natural for me. But I cringe at referring to "das Mädchen" as "es" ("it"), which is grammatically correct. I always say "sie" (which is semantically more pleasing), and I refuse to be edited on it. So: neuter article = no problem. Neuter pronoun - no way. I wonder what's behind this?

Oh, right, you're located in Austria. I hadn't paid attention to your location. Shame on me.
You're absolutely right about the dialect variations.

No shame at all. You were right to call me out. It's not standard German, even in Austria. I was genuinely confused about that. Your correction was most welcome. :)
 

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Ritter Sport!

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Hi Aruna,

Sorry for being that late, but I detected this forum only today.

I have a question though, and need some advice.
The stuff they want sounds terribly, horribly academic. It sounds more like a University Thesis than an essay:

What I would like to write is something less "learned"; perhaps narrative non-fiction, maybe with a bit of humour, about moving to Germany from a third-world country, with my own observations on adpating to the new country, learning to live and grow here, and so on. Maybe the way this has changed me and my perspective over the years.
What do you think? Could you perhaps translate the above into Umgangssprache that a person of Very Little Brain can follow? Using ordinary words? In other words, what do they want?

I am German and what they want is definitely literary fiction, nothing like non-fiction or essays or any kind of journalistic stuff or the like. Invented stories written in a "poetic", i.e. colourful style like metaphors or anything like that. To name only one writer who does not write in a poetic or colourful style: John Grisham. And to name two folks of the poetic faction: Nadine Gordimer or Arundhati Roy. Another writer who writes literary fiction, but who uses a non-poetic language is Coetzee. I've only read his novel "Disgrace", though, so perhaps he's even able to write more poetically – I don't know. I guess they are after stories like this annual Klagenfurt spectacle – I'm sure you've heard about it. More important: All stories of the participants are published and accessible for everyone.

They want to know how your cultural and biographical background mixes and mingles with our cultural background in an environment that is not static but changing all the time. A quite logical demand, because that's how life is. Panta rhei, as they say.

In other words: Don't write about yourself and your experiences here. Write about an invented individual who is like you and who has made experiences similar to yours.

About the length of the stories I think they consider the norm, i.e. 1,800 hits per page or thirty lines with 60 hits each. They don't say it explicitely, but this is the norm with almost all writing competitions here.

I was wondering today -- what is an equivalent German idiom for "round peg in a square hole"?

Though I've never heard this before, I think it must be "die Quadratur des Kreises". At least this would perfectly describe their confusing demands.
 

germanwriter

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On a side note: it's interesting that, intuitively, I have no problem with the neuter pronoun. "Das Mädchen" is perfectly natural for me. But I cringe at referring to "das Mädchen" as "es" ("it"), which is grammatically correct. I always say "sie" (which is semantically more pleasing), and I refuse to be edited on it. So: neuter article = no problem. Neuter pronoun - no way. I wonder what's behind this?

Dawnstorm, you are absolutely right! Me too, I never say or write "es", when it is a girl or a woman, but "sie". Of course this is grammatically wrong, togally wrong, but I would never accept anything else.

And I would never ever use the word "Fräulein" (an ancient expression for an unmarried woman of any age) – except for the extremely rare occasions when I wanted to make clear to others that I abhor a particular woman. I cannot recall any instance when this had happened, though, so this is only theoretical. No womam alive would ever accept it to be called a "Fräulein". This has changed dramatically during the past twenty or thirtiy years. Finally!

And what's behind this? The ugly face of patriarchy.
 

SaraP

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And I would never ever use the word "Fräulein" (an ancient expression for an unmarried woman of any age) – except for the extremely rare occasions when I wanted to make clear to others that I abhor a particular woman. I cannot recall any instance when this had happened, though, so this is only theoretical. No womam alive would ever accept it to be called a "Fräulein". This has changed dramatically during the past twenty or thirtiy years. Finally!

And what's behind this? The ugly face of patriarchy.

No more Fräulein Maria? :(

Sorry, had to ask. You can now resume your conversation. ;)
 

aruna

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Ritter Sport Nugat! My favorite chocolate.



They want to know how your cultural and biographical background mixes and mingles with our cultural background in an environment that is not static but changing all the time. A quite logical demand, because that's how life is. Panta rhei, as they say.

In other words: Don't write about yourself and your experiences here. Write about an invented individual who is like you and who has made experiences similar to yours.

Thanks for this tip. I've alread written it, so what I will do is fictionalise it - ie, pretend it is fiction, (there is a recognisible story). As it is mow it's already dramatised so I think it'll work. Who's to know the difference?
I can't write short fiction, so this will have to do. If it doesn't win one of the prizes, well, at least I tried.
 

Scriptissima

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Hadn't logged on to Absolutewrite in a while, and now I am in the middle of house hunting and moving. But I will take a look at your prose when the worst stress is over - probably in a couple of weeks. :)
 

aruna

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Hadn't logged on to Absolutewrite in a while, and now I am in the middle of house hunting and moving. But I will take a look at your prose when the worst stress is over - probably in a couple of weeks. :)

Great! By that time I'll have the revision finished so you can crit that!
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away