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Sentence Structure

There's much more involved in learning to speak a language than memorizing words. Sentence structure is possibly the most difficult part of the learning process; although noun genders and verb declensions also are difficult to learn. We are accustomed to certain constructions; and, not knowing any other, would be prone to use the same sentence structure in another language. Having a little knowledge of German, and a bit more experience with PA-Dutch, I am familiar with the much caricaturized expressions that are perfectly normal in the PA-D dialect. My greatest difficulty is the inability of my aged brain to retain newly learned words; however, I do manage to retain most of the knowledge that I acquired as a youth.

German/PA-D sentence construction often places the verb at the end of a sentence, or after the object upon which the verb acts. (All my examples will be written with phonetic spelling for ease of understanding). "Ich hop dee deer oof gemocht" - "I have the door open made" is almost impossible for the learner to comprehend; because you have been saying, "I (have) opened the door" all your life. "Soll Ich dee deer oof mocha?" -"Shall I the door open make?" The English translation sounds ludicrous; but not to the PA-German. "Make the door open"- "Moch dee deer oof" sounds fine to him or her [ not he or she, and definitely not them]. Here the verb is at the beginning of the sentence. "Ich moch dee deer oof"- "I make the door open". Here the verb is between the subject and the object, as in an English sentence.

There is a German word "ffnen", for which I have no phonetic pronunciation, which makes it possible to say "Open the door"-ffnen die Tr"; but it was not PA-Dutch vernacular.

Contributed by Richard Emlin Reed.

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Last Modified Sunday, 08-Feb-2009 06:46:39 MST

© copyright 2007-2009 Richard Berkheiser.