Writing, Reading, Listening – Your Stories 1

Written By: Emanuel Updated: March 15, 2023

Hello everyone,

and welcome to … your story of the day :).
Yeay, it is happening.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked you if you’d be interested in a sort of writing practice where you write a short piece about yourself or your life or whatever, and I go through it on the blog and correct mistakes and give a little commentary about style and phrasing.

Many of you seemed to like the idea, and quite a few have already sent me stories, so today, we’ll try it out now :).

Your Stories – Part 1

Now, while I was preparing this, I realized that there are actually quite a few ways to do it. Correct mistakes immediately, or show the full text first? Add English translations? If yes, where? As a block or line by line?
Each option has its own pros and cons. Like … having the mistakes separate means a better flow while reading, but at the same time way more scrolling and searching.
Maybe, there actually is not THE one best way to present this but for today, I have decided to do the following:

  1. I’ll read the corrected text and you can read along, with English translations
  2. I’ll break down the original text and correct and comment sentence by sentence

And today, we’ll have the pretty well written short story of why the reader David learned Chinese as a young man and is learning German only now, so… let’s jump right in.

Now, ideally, there would be an audio player right here. However, I realized that my custom player that I made ONLY has a play button. That’s enough for words and short examples, but for a longer text, it’s suboptimal because you can’t skip back to listen to something again.

I’m going to add another type of player with more controls, but I need a bit more time for that, so for today, I’ll just give you that tiny button and also the mp3 to download and you can then play it separately on your device… like real internet OGs :)

Click here to download the mp3
(opens in new window, you can download there)

And now, enjoy the story of David.

Audio here:

***

Corrected version and translation

Ich wurde in den USA als Sohn einer Familie mit deutschsprachigem Hintergrund geboren, also habe ich natürlich… Chinesisch als Fremdsprache gelernt.

I was born in the USA as the son of a family with German background, so naturally I learned… Chinese as a foreign language.

Eigentlich war es aber tatsächlich “natürlich” – beide Seiten meiner Familie waren während des Zweiten Weltkriegs Flüchtlinge und wollten daher das “Deutschsein” vergessen.

But actually, it was indeed “natural” – both sides of my family had been refugees during the second world war and wanted to therefore forget the “being German”

Nach ihrer Ankunft in Amerika haben meine Eltern fast kein Wort Deutsch mehr gesprochen.

After their arrival in America, my parents spoke virtually no word of German anymore.

Trotzdem war das Englisch, das sie gesprochen haben, sehr stark vom Deutschen beeinflusst – verschachtelter Satzbau, viel Konjunktiv, komplexes Vokabular, usw.

Nevertheless was the English they spoke very heavily influenced by the German language – nested sentence structure, a lot of subjunctive, complex vocabulary and so on. 

Ich für meinen Teil habe jahrzehntelang in Asien und später in England gelebt und Chinesisch für Arbeit, Leben und Vergnügen verwendet.

I for my part lived in Asia for decades, later in England; and I used Chinese for work, life and pleasure.

Als Journalist habe ich die Welt gesehen. Nach dem Tod meiner Eltern vermisste ich jedoch viele Dinge sehr – überraschenderweise vermisste ich vor allem ihre Art zu sprechen.

As a journalist, I have seen the world. However, after my parents’ death, I did miss a lot of things quite a bit – surprisingly I most of all missed their way of speaking. 

Also habe ich vor vier Jahren, mit 60, angefangen, Deutsch zu lernen, um ihre Muttersprache irgendwie zu verinnerlichen.

So four years ago, at the age of 60, I started learning German so as to internalize their native language somehow. 

Zum Glück hat mir die Pandemie sehr geholfen. Ich hatte viel Zeit für mein neues Hobby. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, was meine Eltern gedacht hätten, wenn sie sich mit mir auf Deutsch hätten unterhalten können.

Luckily, the pandemic helped me a great deal. I had a lot of time for my new hobby. I’m not sure what my parents would have thought, had they been able to have a conversation with me in German. 

Jedenfalls bin ich froh, dass ich ein Fenster zu meiner deutschen Seite öffnen konnte … und ich freue mich, die Sprachmelodie aus meiner Kindheit wieder zu hören.

In either case, I am happy that I could open a window to my German side … and I’m happy to hear some of the “language melody” of my childhood again.

***

Original with corrections and commentary

***

Ich bin in den USA als Sohn einer Familie mit deutschsprachigem Hintergrund geboren, also habe ich natürlich … Chinesisch als Fremdsprache gelernt.

Correction 1:

 Ich wurde in den USA… geboren.

(It’s just more idiomatic than “Ich bin geboren”.)

Eigentlich war es allerdings “natürlich” – beide Seiten meiner Familie waren während des Zweiten Weltkriegs Flüchtlinge und wollten daher das “Deutschsein” zu vergessen.

Correction 2:   

Eigentlich war es aber tatsächlich  “natürlich”…

(The original is not wrong but the “allerdings” introduces a contrast which isn’t specified. The contrast is that even though it doesn’t sound natural to learn Chinese, it is actually indeed in a way “natural” given the circumstances. A “wirklich” or “tatsächlich” is needed to really drive that home.)

Correction 3:

…und wollten daher das Deutschsein vergessen.

(“wollen” is a modal verb and doesn’t need “zu” to connect a second verb.)

Nach ihrer Ankunft in Amerika hatten meine Eltern fast kein Wort Deutsch mehr gesprochen.

Correction 4:

… haben meine Eltern fast kein Wort Deutsch mehr gesprochen.

(I would use normal past here. The “superpast” aka Plusquamperfect low-key makes it sound as if we’re referencing a specific point in the past BEFORE WHICH they hadn’t spoken any word, but the statement is more general and doesn’t have a fixed reference except “after the arrival”.)

Trotzdem war das Englisch, das sie gesprochen haben, sehr stark vom Deutschen beeinflusst – verschachtelter Satzbau, viel Konjunktiv, komplexes Vokabular, usw. Ich für meinen Teil habe jahrzehntelang in Asien und später in England gelebt und Chinesisch für Arbeit, Leben und Vergnügen verwendet.

(perfect)

Als Journalist habe ich die Welt gesehen. Nach dem Tod meiner Eltern vermisste ich jedoch viele Dinge sehr – überraschenderweise vermisste ich vor allem ihre Art zu sprechen. Also habe ich vor vier Jahren, mit 60, angefangen, Deutsch zu lernen um ihre Muttersprache irgendwie zu verinnerlichen.

(perfect)

Zum Glück hat mir die Pandemie sehr geholfen. Ich hatte viel Zeit, um mein neues Hobby auszuüben. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, was meine Eltern gedacht hätten, wenn sie sich mit mir auf Deutsch hätten unterhalten können**.

(**omg, this was perfect)

Correction 5:

Ich hatte viel Zeit für mein neues Hobby.

(“Hobby ausüben” is not wrong, but it sounds a bit stiff, more so than the English “practice a hobby”. And the stiffness is weird in combination with the word hobby. It’s a good phrasing for a B1 or B2 writing exam though. It comes across “fancy”)

Jedenfalls bin ich froh, dass ich ein Fenster zu meiner deutschen Seite öffnen konnte … und einige der Sprachmusik aus meiner Kindheit wieder zu hören.

Correction 6:

… öffnen konnte… und ich freue mich, die Sprachmelodie aus meiner Kindheit wieder zu hören.

(I am not sure what is meant by “einige der Sprachmusik”, but it’s not idiomatic. I have changed it to “die Sprachmelodie”. I also added “ich freue mich”. The part before that has the verb “ich konnte”, but now we’re using a zu-construct with “zu hören”. Those are different structures and they’re a bit separated, so it’s better to give each of them their own introduction, in my opinion. Not a real mistakes, just some style.)

Wrap up

I think you could tell… this was some super saiyan top level writing skill!! Well done David, and thank you for sharing. Now everyone feels bad about their writing :D

Seriously though… if you can’t write like this, don’t feel bad. This was C1/C2-level stuff, the phrasings were all pretty much idiomatic and well chosen and without the very few grammar mistakes you can pass it off as written by a native speaker.

Next time we do this, I’m going to take a text that’s a bit more relatable for most language learners… so with loads of basic mistakes, weird phrasings, needlessly complicated sentences that fall apart toward the end and so on :).

But yeah… let me know in the comments what you think about this format!!
Do you like it? Do you learn something from this?
How would you like me to present this? Should I give the corrections first?
Let me know all your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
Oh and also, let me know if you have questions about any of the corrections and why I made them.
I really hope you enjoyed this, have a great week and I’ll see you in the next one.
Bye.

 

Ps.:

I already have quite a few stories, and I’m not going to able to present all of them. But if you want to send in yours, please do to info@german-is-easy.com … I’ll pick based on level, type of mistakes and also how interesting they are.

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