25/11/2009 15:44 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or Can't Say It

Germans love their long compact nouns. They bundle a whole plethora of words together giving them the ability to construct a noun of anything between two and five kilometers long. As a foreigner you start off hating them and end up loving them. It becomes a game trying to figure out the meaning and even making up your own. This you are free to do as there seem to be no real rules at least as far as I can decipher.

Try this one for size:


The meaning? The handle on the window of a chewing gum vending machine. It's pure German logic. Why use eleven words when one will clearly suffice?

It's a cracker is it not? Finje, who still pronounces three as flea, has just learned to say lasagna rather than samangna and creases me up with her version of squirrel can, believe it or not, almost get her tongue around this monster of a word. So continues my constant angst that her English will never be as accomplished as her German.She is trying though (insert old joke here). Yesterday, hopping from one leg to the other, fumbling frantically with the clasps on her dungarees she spluttered, "Mama, can you me please with my buttons help?"


I tried and failed not to laugh. In German, of course, the sentence would have been perfect. This proves my theory that anyone wishing to delve into the intricacies and mysteries of German grammar should first consider taking on something simpler. How to ensure world peace for the next three hundred years. Or maybe differential calculus.

Most German's inherent inability to articulate our "th" combined with confusion over "w" and "v" provides us however with plenty of comedic material. But zat is not vat I vant for my daughter! There will have to be practice.

Thirty three thirsty, thundering thoroughbreds thumped Mr Thurber on Thursday. Or, The very weary warrior veered violently where the violets wound very wickedly. Unreasonable for a three and a half year old? Okay, I guess so. But seriously, the thought of Finje growing up sounding like an extra in a dodgy World War Two movie fills me with horror.

Still, she did proudly count from one to twenty in English today (with only a hint of an accent), which went some way to calming my worried head. I was quite proud and I do like to's so good for the skin.