The Awful German Language

"The Awful German Language" is an 1880 essay by Mark Twain published as Appendix D in A Tramp Abroad. The essay is a humorous exploration of the frustrations a native English speaker has with learning German as a second language.

Twain made his first unsuccessful attempt to learn German in 1850 at age fifteen. He resumed his study 28 years later in preparation for a trip to Europe. Upon his arrival in Germany, the fruit of this recent scholarship was attested to in the advice of a friend: "Speak in German, Mark. Some of these people may understand English." During this 1878 stay in Germany, Twain had a dream in which, according to his notebook, "all bad foreigners went to German Heaven—couldn't talk and wished they had gone to the other place."

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