Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The German exam is over. I didn't finish my translation, so no pass this time, but it was easier than I expected. If I go to the German workshops this semester and practice at home, I should have no trouble passing in May.

I should clarify: this wasn't a "final." It was a "pre-general" exam. My department requires students to take four pre-general exams over the course of their first two years of graduate work. German is the only one that I have yet to pass. They work like road tests: it doesn't matter how many times you fail, as long as you pass once. We're allowed to use dictionaries, so I don't actually have to "know" German -- I passed the French exam without "knowing" French. I simply have to understand German grammar and syntax and have enough of a vocabulary to be able to translate one page of text within an hour.

What troubles me is that, while I came close to passing the exam, I still can't make head or tail of any "real" German article with which I've been confronted. Will I ever be sufficiently proficient in German to be able to use it for my academic work? I suppose I will, because I must.

Translating declined languages into English can be fun. It's like a puzzle; you rearrange words until, gradually, the sentence begins to make sense. At least, that's what it's like until you're really competent.

So I guess I'm on vacation. Until 1 PM tomorrow, that is, when my first class of the semester begins. I'm using my "vacation" to back up my hard drive and reinstall Windows. What would I do without DH?

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