Volkswagen: The Wagon of Vikings- Or Was It Vagen for Women? The Tongue Twister Guide to the V and W Words in English

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Vince and Vance went with the Volkswagen Van west to Las Vegas. Vince is from Wiesbaden and Vance is from Wernersgrün. They both have fathers named Werner and they both enjoy Weizenbier (Wheat beer).

Looking at this sentence, how would you pronounce these words? Chances are, regardless of where you are coming from, you are pronouncing at least some of the words wrong. If you are a native speaker of English, chances are you are pronouncing the German words with a W when even though they start with a W, they sound like a V. This puts Wernersgrün, Werner, Weizenbier and Wiesbaden in the line of fire. Yet if you are a non-native speaker of English, be it German, Russian, Arabic, or eastern European, chances are that you are pronouncing the V-words like they are W. This is where Vince, Vance and Vegas fall into that unfortunate trap. Furthermore, especially in Germany, some words that start with W are pronounced with V. Apart from west and wheat in this example, other words that fall into the crossfire include wake, watch and wear.

To keep it straight, as well as short and to the point, the Vs and Ws are always mixed up! 😦  Aside from the TH-words, the VW words are one of the most difficult pronunciations in the English language for that particular reason. Another reason behind it is the way they are spoken, something where Ronnie in this video has an easy way to explain the difference between V and W words:

And while she views W-words as words spoken of a true kisser from the Czech Republic and V-words like a two-eared bunny rabbit saying “FUCK!” when spotted by a vulture, here’s another easy way to explain the difference between the VW words.

With the V-sound, it has a close relationship with the F-words, meaning air is constructed from the top part of the mouth. The difference between the F and V is the length as the V-words are longer and most of the time voiced consonants. The F-words are shorter and mostly voiceless.

As for the W-words, apart from forming that short O in the mouth and then widening it in length, one can refer to the Seven-Ws in terms of question form, meaning the Who, What, When, Where, Why, Which and How. With the exception of Who and whose (since the W there are silent), the rest follow this kissing Czech concept. This is also regardless of whether the W-words stand out alone or if a consonant is added to the W.

This takes us to the Tongue-Twister exercise featuring the uses of V and W words. Homemade by the author, it was divided up into the V-category, the W-category and the mixed category. If you can master the first two, then you should be able to master the third one easily. 🙂 A video is enclosed at the end of the article to provide you with reference on how they are pronounced in case you need assistance. 🙂

So without further ado, away with you in your Volkswagen and be vicious, vivacious and victorious with these examples! 😉  Good luck! 🙂

V-category:

V/F:

Vincent went to Fargo with Fred to visit his friend Vance, who owns a Volkswagen five-some conversion van. Fred is fat from feasting on fawn while Vincent is invincible for being Vice President of the Federation for the Advancement of Unforgivable Follies. Vince and Vance are Friends for forty-four years, while Fred is friends with Faye for fourteen fortnights.

 

V:

The Virgins value the Vikings.

The Vikings value the Vegans.

The Vegans value the Vegetarians.

The Vegetarians value the Viceroys.

The Viceroys value the Vocalists,

While the Vocalists avenged the Viceroys with Viagra.

 

W-Category:

W:

Where was Wally Worthington when we wanted him? Wally Worthington was one writer who won twenty wonderful awards for his work, while his wisdom we want, for Wally wants to whistle a wonderful, unwavering work with a whippoorwill.  But Wally Worthington will walk with a wild woman to Willy Wonker’s white and wealthy, western restaurant. Why? Wally and the wild woman want to eat a whoopee cushion.

 

TW:

Twelve twiddling twins tweeted Mark Twain on Twitter with twenty tweezers and with twelve twitches. The twisted twins tweeted that Twain twined twenty tunes about twinberries and twinflowers, twisting and twittering in a Twinkie. Twain twinkles a Twinkie in the Twilight and twists and twirls with the twins.

 

SW/W:

There was a Swiss doing Swan Lake wearing her Swatch Watch on her wrist. She swaddled in the water and met Katharina Witt, who swiped the Swatch Watch swished it into a weaved swivel with White Washington underwear. Where was Washington who wore white underwear? Underwater with Winona Ryder.

 

TW/SW/W:

Twelve twisted witches were swimming with the wind, when we witnessed twenty twisted wolves, who were witty wonders of the world. The wolves were weeping with wiseguys who wore woolen sweaters weaved by sweating workers twiddling with white whisks, swearing with white wisdom teeth, while the twelve twisted witches swirled with their sweethearts, switching their swords with words.

 

Mixed Category:

V/W:

Waking in Vegas, William walked to Vincent with a victorious whistle, wondering why Warren visited Vanessa while wrestling with Vegas Wally Vanderworth, the world wrestler with wonderful vicious wild faces which wants William to wail him one.

 

V/W:

Wayne Von Western ventured with Victoria Wallace with a Volkswagen Van with four wheels to western Washington. Wayne and Victoria were whistling various vivacious songs about a white Hoover vacuum cleaner with various vinyl vibrating hoses with wax which Viviane and the Women Vikings whacked with a vulture.

 

 

V/W:

Virginia with a wonderful voice, ventured with Vivi in a Volkswagen onto Venice with Winnie to voice their vengeance with world-renowned vocalists Vincent Wallingford who videotaped with Werner and Verne their voices for Weight Watchers.

 

V/W:

Victory was wonderful. Winning was victorious. Women were invincible. Vikings were whipped, while Vince and Vance vacated the white Woolworth and went with the Volkswagen to Vegas.

 

Here’s the video where you can listen to the tongue twisters, some of which even the author stumbled during the recording……. 😉

 

 

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In School in Germany: Teaching Beowulf and Old English- Introduction

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Viking Ship at the Museum in Oslo. Source: Wikipedia (Hifi0006)

Old English: one of the main origins of our language. Consisting of the languages of the Anglo-Saxons, Old English was first spoken by the Germanic tribes and consisted of words most commonly found in today’s German, English and some Scandanavian language. With the Norman Conquest of 1066, Old English transformed itself into Middle English while adopting words and phrases from the Norman language. Eventually all of the historic elements, as seen in the clip below, made up today’s language, which has its common, fixed structure in terms of grammar and sentence construction, but is constantly evolving because of the language’s adaptation to the changing environments, including the development of technology which is influencing the way English is being used.

 

And this takes us to the story of Beowulf. Written between the 10th and 11th Century, before the Norman Conquest, Beowulf is the oldest known literary work that was conceived in Old English. Although the work has been translated into today’s English, with the most recent work written and edited by Seamus Heaney, it is unknown who wrote the folklore, consisting of a poem with 3182 lines. The work has however been adapted into film, TV series and even children’s stories.

But who is Beowulf and why is it important to teach that in class?

To summarize, Beowulf was a warrior of Scandanavian descent who ruled the Geat kingdom. His strength is equal to 30 men, and he can battle with sword and hand-to-hand combat. He helps the king of Danes, Hrothgar, in defeating a monster named Grendel, who had invaded the dining hall, killing some Danish soldiers. Grendel loses his arm in the battle with Beowulf, runs home to the mother and dies at the end. The mother becomes angry and invades the hall again. Beowulf chases her down and kills her in the end as well. The warrior receives many rewards and eventually expanded his kingdom in the end. Fifty years have passed, and Beowulf, in his 70s, faces another challenge in a form of a dragon. Accompanied by his nephew, he battles the dragon and defeats it, but not before he is mortally wounded. He is honored in his funeral, where as a custom, he is burned on a boat but others give him something as a sacrifice to remember.  Many adaptations exist but a couple shorter animations shows how the story takes place:

Because the poem was written in Old English, Beowulf presents an insight of how English was used during that time, especially as some of the words originated from that period. Furthermore it is important to learn about history after the Fall of the western half of the Roman Empire, especially as far as the creation of the Anglo-Saxon and Scandanavian regions are concerned. Much of that is taught in history classes in schools in Germany, especially in the sixth and seventh grades, but some elements are even being presented in English classes, including the culture of the kingdoms in the regions during that time. While some elements of European history is introduced in American schools, it is important to learn about this, for the Vikings, who explored North America in the 9th Century, the time of the release of Beowulf, came from the regions in Scandanavia, including Denmark, and had been known for invading the Anglo-Saxon kingdom (especially in present-day England) several times before the Conquest of 1066.

The question is how to teach Beowulf to students in school without having to bore them. As mentioned before, over 3200 lines were written and translated, yet the time limit is a factor, as well as determining how it fits in the curriculum for either English or history. One can reduce the content to the most important aspects, but doing so creates a risk of leaving out some elements that may become important later on. Reading it straight out would be as brutally difficult as reading Chaucer, even on the high school level.

But one can create their own adaption of Beowulf. This includes adapting Beowulf to a modern version, such as Beowulf 2.0, Beowulf on Twitter, etc. It also includes activities to fill in the lost years, video games, and the like. It is a matter of presenting a summary of the story, while introducing the details, including Beowulf’s family, childhood, kingdom and even the culture of the Geats, Anglo-Saxon, Danish and Scandanavian regions, which one may need a two sessions for, pending on the time alloted per session. After that, students have a chance to create their own versions of Beowulf.

In July, some examples of how Beowulf can be taught will be presented to give teachers and students some ideas for their own project as well as possibilities to teach it in class. These were done by fellow college students at a university in central Germany. More on that will come then. In the meantime, what are some ideas you would have to teach students the importance of Beowulf? What projects did you try doing? Place your stories in the comment section below.

Stay tuned! More on Beowulf will come in July. 🙂

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The Year of the Beer Day 1: Oettinger Winterbier

Oettinger Winterbier

Day 1 of the beer tasting challenge, New Year’s Day 2016, and what is fitting but to try a Winterbier- perfect for this time of year. Germany is famous for its various beer types one will find on the shelves of grocery stores as well as through ordering. One of them is with winter beer flavor. Interesting is the fact that the origin does not come from Germany and goes way back……

…….to the age of the Vikings.

As many of us know, the Vikings were Norsemen from Scandanavia whose purpose was to travel by ship, invade and conquer the regions of northern and central Europe and take their loot back to their homelands. Between the 8th and 11th centuries, the Vikings dominated the areas of Frisia and Juteland, along the coasts of present-day Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Pommerania, bringing with them skills in shipping, the Scandanavian language and smoked meat as one of the cuisines to the region. The language was important as many of the words were later adopted in the English and Germanic vocabularies.

Then there was the Winterbier. Legend has it that Winterbier was brewed especially for the Winter solstace, where a special malt flavor is added to the ingredients and the beer is stored in icehouses, thus allowing it to mature with age. When served Winterbier has a high alcoholic content but a strong powerful aroma, which allows the drinker to enjoy the taste. This special beer type is still being brewed by breweries today, albeit with some slight differences and sometimes going by the names of Festbier or Weihnachtsbier. However, the taste of a typical Winterbier today is similar to what is described in the past.

My first taste test for 2016 comes from a very popular beer brand in Germany. The Oettinger beer dates back to 1731 when it was first brewed in the city bearing its name, located in the Bavarian part of Swabia, 30 kilometers from Donauworth. In 1956, Gunther and Otto Kollmar bought the brewery and the family has owned the business ever since, with Dirk and Ingrid also having a share in the business. Since 2004, it has become Germany’s best selling beer and one can find them in supermarkets, kiosks and petro stations nationwide. 5,0 Beer is also part of the Oettinger family. Apart from its headquarters, one can find breweries in Brunswick, Gotha and Mönchengladbach.

The beer to be tasted was the Winterbier. At first, I was very skeptical because I had tried an original Oettinger pils and radler in the past. Both times I was disappointed with the beers because of its rather weak taste- tasting like a combination of water, bread and barley but not having a fine taste where a person can enjoy it. It was not as bad as the Löwenbräu, which I only drank a half bottle, left it in the fridge for three months and then dumped it because of its hideous taste (see article here). Yet sometimes bad experiences can lead to a person avoiding it, even if the brewery tries marketing a special product.

With the Oettinger Winterbier, I decided to give the brand one more chance to prove itself that it can win over the customer. After splitting a bottle with my wife over a dinner, here are some things to know about the product:

Color: copper, most likely a pils with a malt flavor to it. The content is clear and the foam is not too thick.

Aroma and flavor: Like with other Oettinger flavors, the aroma and flavor is bread-like but with a slight caramel taste and herbal seasoning, it falls along the same lines as with the Winterbier. Yet despite its slick taste on the tongue, the impression was that the aroma was rather weak and the flavor was rather flat with more herb than caramel, more water than the ingredients, this partially fulfilling the stereotype of the beer. In other words, the craftmanship was rather plain and not so extraordinary, but the balance between bitter and sweet is in the middle.  Yet if one wants to identify the ingredients just by tasting it, it is worth a shot, for a person can take a long time to drink a mug of the beer.

Overall Grade and Comment:  (C-/ 3,3)  While the Oettinger Winterbier represents a classic example of a winter flavored beer that is typical for this time of year, I found the beer to be relatively flat. That means, like with other beers, it was too watery and had a weak taste to it. As the brewery has been mass-producing the beer products for the supermarkets since the 1960s, this concept has taken its toll on the quality of the beer. If this mass-production combined with possible cost-cutting measures are proven to be effective in the supermarkets, then it has to come at the cost of the flavor and taste of the beer, which is the case here. In order to improve on its quality, Oettinger beer should try lean production, where there is less inventory on beer and more quality on the taste of the beer products. Less is always more and while this type of beer has a unique taste that is typical of a Winterbier, the quality could be improved if the strategy of more for the supermarket combined with marketing strategies changed.  While some people like the brand, one has to see that by examining it closer, there is room for improvement.

And now to our next beer.  Prost!

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