Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yes. I am competent

For those of you who do not know, I passed my German exam! I did this by translating about three sentences from a journal. Three sentences which took me an hour. Apparently, that qualifies me as “competent,” and I believe I am. Give me a German-English dictionary and as much time as I need and I can translate anything you want. In the interest of intellectual improvement, however, I still intend to buy a book and actually learn how to read German as best I can. One sentence every 20 minutes might qualify me as “competent,” but it certainly does not mean I can read the language in any meaningful way. At that rate, I could never use a book published in German as a footnote or in a bibliography. And that’s the point. Currently I am limited in my studies to those relatively few authors who write or have been translated into English. Most of the best work in my field over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries has been done in Germany and France. So, I hope to move from competent to proficient in German. Once I do that, I’ll do it again in French.