Thursday, August 23, 2007

German, Conceptually, Illustrated

One thing that didn't make it into the post about our cemetery visit was the unexpected use of exclamation points on grave markers. I had certainly never seen that before, but then, I'd never been to a German language cemetery before... therefore, I didn't expect it. Apparently terms such as "rest in peace" are imperatives--commands--which, in German, take an exclamation point, categorically.

The reason the imperative form takes an exclamation point is that it is an order, you are saying "Do it!"

This reminds me of when I was a child, and my mother would declare bedtime. Maybe other children got bedtime stories or whatever; I got my mother bellowing "Go! To! Sleep! Right! Now!" Just as nothing helps a child drift off to sleep like the bellowing of a parent, I imagine nothing helps the dead rest in peace like a direct order. It is etched in granite, after all.

9 comments:

gregvw said...

I didn't know that Mrs. Commanderson was German.

Holly said...

Mrs. Commanderson was drunk.

gregvw said...

Oddly, those two things aren't as synonymous as one might expect.

Rufus said...

One of my favorite things in Spanish is the upside-down exclamation points at the beginning of these sentences. I'd like to adapt that to English. I like this too because 90 percent of German sentences sound like they should have an exclamation point to me.

Holly said...

See, I always liked the upside down question marks. It's good to know going in, that you have a question on your hands.

Rufus said...

I love the question marks too. I sometimes use them in English.

Actually, this reminds me of something that I really should confess. I know this will make me sound like a complete dick- as well as pretty much guarantee that somebody posts it in the next comment- but every time I read 'LOL' on the net, I want to punch the person who wrote it in the throat.

Holly said...

Groinal tasering saves such wear and tear on the knuckles, though....

My pet peeve is people speaking net-speak aloud in conversation, as if those acronyms were actual words. LOL, ROFL, YMMV, IMHO are. not. words.

Rufus said...

I've never heard that, but I think part of my hatred of the acronym comes from imagining some idiot saying 'LOL!'. It's also possible that I'm just a very angry little man.

Holly said...

Well, just remember, when you actually hear someone say it, not to punch them in the throat, unless you have a good alibi.