In today’s language lesson, we learn to give instructions and to say what is forbidden. If you think about it, these are two sides of the same coin . . . though I don’t recall studying them at the same time in any previous language course. Even in English, there are many ways to say you should do something and shouldn’t do something else. Let’s see how many we catch in the German, French, Spanish, and English versions of Extr@ Episode 8!
“Keine Haustiere, Keine Partys . . .”
In the very first episode, we learned that Sascha, Anna, Nic, and Sam have been regularly breaking most of their landlady’s rules. On the one hand, it’s not a big deal: Anna seems to clean up after her dog Louis very well, so he doesn’t bother other tenants . . . And the only late-night party of theirs that we have seen was a very quiet affair! On the other hand, a broken rule may not affect the present, but it might affect the future. If Sascha and Anna continue to pile laundry on the radiator, it could eventually break down.
This brings us to an interesting question: If something is forbidden because of an undesirable effect, but you can do it without causing the effect, should you be allowed to do it? Our characters seem to think so!
I find the grammar here a little disappointing. The landlady’s cousin just repeats “Kein” over and over. This would have been a great time for words like “verboten” (forbidden) or “untersagt” (prohibited) . . . or in French, “interdit” and “defendu” . . . but we don’t get them. I’m not sure why, since they have equivalents in all four Extr@ languages.
“Wo ist die Anleitung?”
We had a short look at imperatives a few episodes ago, when Sam tried following a recipe. (Link to Episode 5 Watchalong) The grammar is a little more challenging now that he is putting up shelves. In German, commands and formal written instructions are a little different.
I also noticed the characters using modal verbs like müssen (to have to), dürfen (to be allowed to), and sollen (to be supposed to) a lot.
As a grammar lesson, however, this episode lacks focus. But it uses many points that an A-level learner has covered and needs to review. And like the previous story, it makes a great listening exercise.
“Wie sollen wir sie nennen?”
In each version of Episode 8, the landlady’s cousin gets a really awful name. In Extra deutsch, it’s Edeltraud, a really old-fashioned girl’s name. Her French counterpart is Clothilde, her English counterpart is Eunice, and her Spanish counterpart is Paca. The different first names may owe something to culture and the near-identical last names (Berg, de Montaigne, Montalban, and Mountain) may owe something to an inside joke.
Of all the first names, I think Edeltraud is the “worst.” Even in German, it reminds people of fish! On the other hand, I like the sound of Clothilde . . . but perhaps it sounds as old-fashioned in France as its own cousin Brunhilde is in German. I’m neutral about Eunice and I find Paca actually cute.
What’s in a name anyway? In South Korea, English learners like to take an “English name” in class. I learned this from a South Korean flatmate whose English name was Joey. She didn’t know it was mostly a boy’s name until it was too late to change it. After we and the other girls we lived with grew closer, she tried to teach us Hangeul. And because it was kind of like Korean class, she insisted that we all take Korean names! But she didn’t want us choosing a “wrong” name as she did, so she named us all herself. In fact, she named us after herself, insisting that we all take her surname, too! I was Han Cheong-So — a name, she said, that made me sound strong. (I never asked if she thought that I was already strong or that I needed to be stronger!)
- Have you ever had a landlord or landlady with unusual rules?
- When you begin a project that comes with detailed instructions, do you read them first or ignore them?
- In your culture, what would be a really embarrassing first name to have?
- If you had to use a different name in language class, what would it be?
Next Week: Episode 9, Jobs for the Boys
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