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Nov 12, 2012
This week's theme
Words borrowed from German

This week's words
wunderkind
gemutlichkeit
blitzkrieg
kulturkampf
kaffeeklatsch

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Mark Twain once said, "My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years."

Well, how hard it is to learn a language depends on what language you speak to begin with. If you speak English you have a head start as it's a Germanic language. English father and German vater are not that different. But there's a nugget of truth in Twain's claim. German doesn't try to make it any easier. It has three genders, four cases, six ways of writing the definite article, 12 ways of forming plurals ... and we have only scratched the surface.

Well, we can't help you with everything if you're learning the language, but we can help you with the vocabulary. This week we'll see five German words English has borrowed.

wunderkind

PRONUNCIATION:
(VOON-duhr-kind, wun-)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A child prodigy.
2. A person who achieves great success early in the career.

ETYMOLOGY:
From German Wunderkind, from Wunder (wonder) + Kind (child). Earliest documented use: 1891.

USAGE:
"Miguel Angel Sano is the wunderkind, one of the best young players the Dominican Republic has ever produced."
David Malitz; The Big Leagues' Hits and Errors; The Washington Post; Jul 13, 2012.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. -Moliere, actor and playwright (1622-1673)

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