9 comments on “Well, yes, they\’ll have to rather

  1. If only bloody Latin hadn’t been compulsory for me I might have learnt to read German before my twenties.

    P.S. Did you know that one of Hayek’s complaints about Keynes was that the bugger was too idle to learn German and therefore was not up to date with his subject?

    P.P.S. My wife had some reason to think that the historian Trevor-Roper couldn’t understand idiomatic spoken German (he admitted himself that he couldn’t read German in its more demanding typefaces) and that therefore his Last Days of Hitler is to some extent bogus.

    P.P.P.S. Those two idle sods worked in an era when every organic chemist learnt enough German to at least read the literature of his discipline.

  2. Germans and their scientific terms are why most of us say billion for 1,000 million, instead of saying milliard for 1,000 million.

  3. And let’s not forget the German obsession with running around naked. All pink and mottled and plump, like a bunch of bratwurst flying in loose formation. Do we really want their mores enforced all over Europe?

  4. I wonder if that makes him an optimist? Probably not. Just realistic. An optimist would be learning Chinese. A pessimist Urdu.

  5. English must today be considered the best language for a single language speaker, but German has some valuable attributes. Like their penchant for trying to explain every object’s use with its name: I suspect that this from early on initiate the Germans into the engineering way of thinking. I have a couple of technical books both in English and German versions, and though better versed in English, I find the German easier to understand.

  6. dearieme, we couldn’t expect an Oxford man (Trevor-Roper) to put in the hard work needed to learn a foreign language.

    And Cambridge men assume that everything worth reading comes from Cambridge, so even if the German had been translated, Keynes still wouldn’t have read it.

  7. I like German. You can make up new words by stringing together lots of existing ones. And it’s brilliant for swearing.

  8. Richard – “we couldn’t expect an Oxford man (Trevor-Roper) to put in the hard work needed to learn a foreign language.”

    Hey, that’s not fair. T-R belonged to a generation which did learn German, but not of course modern spoken German. If you wanted to know something about Mediaeval German poetry, or the dialects of Upper Swabia, I am sure T-R would have been your man. But only businessmen and tourists wanted to speak to actual Germans. Dons studied books.

    You can see this in someone like that ultimate Oxford Don, Tolkein. I have no idea what he could speak, but what he understood was another matter.

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