The Awful German Language

Read by Rainer

(4 stars; 62 reviews)

If you’ve ever studied German (and maybe even if you haven’t), you’re likely to find this short essay to be hilarious. Published as Appendix D from Twain’s 1880 book A Tramp Abroad, this comedic gem outlines the pitfalls one will encounter when trying to wrap one’s mind around the torturous German cases, adjective endings, noun genders, and verb placement.
(Summary by Kara) (1 hr 3 min)


Part 1 15:53 Read by Rainer
Part 2 20:51 Read by Rainer
Part 3 26:31 Read by Rainer


Nifty idea, poor execution

(2 stars)

The usual situation on Librivox (in the English works, anyway) is that you must endure a native English-speaking reader who routinely mangles any foreign words that find their way into the text, not to mention English words that are at all unusual. I ask myself, “Didn’t this volunteer, in the carrying-out of this task admirably undertaken, even bother to get out a dictionary and check the pronunciation of the ‘hard’ words?” I ask myself this quite often while listening to Librivox. I read this hilarious essay in college, and when I came across it here, I thought, “Perfect: read by a native German speaker.” Not so perfect: Rainier’s accent is so thick and his reading of English so faulty that all the humor is lost. For a writer as ineluctably American as Mark Twain, any reader other than an American (preferably one from Missouri) simply won’t do.

lovely little gem

(4 stars)

I stumbled across this little gem one evening and so glad I did. It was very amusing, funny at moments. Its read by a native German speaker and I can only imagine his amusement with the piece. As an adult I learned a Germanic language so this was very familiar and amusing.

very entertaining

(5 stars)

This is a very funny essay on German language. Read by a native German speaker. His English pronunciation has some flaws, but all the same it was a very entertaining reading.

Great Book, Poor Reader

(2 stars)

This is a hysterical essay for anyone who has ever tried to learn German and I would give it 5 stars if not for the reader. I lived in Germany for several years, I'm married to a German, and have many German friends however, I found this reader's English so difficult to understand. Hopefully they can replace this with a reader who is a native speaker of both English and German.

The Awful German Language

(2.5 stars)

The book is excellent, but the reader should at least be able to speak and pronounce proper English. His reading was hard to understand and unfortunately I was not able to get through the whole book.

wonderful! And oh-so relatable

(4.5 stars)

I have recently begun the grueling task of learning German on my own. After a particularly frustrating lesson, I saw the title of this and decided, 'eh, what the heck.' Mark Twain hits upon some of the most discouraging and infuriating hangups for a learner of this language. Do you use masculine, Feminine, or Neutral? How many different meanings can the Godforsaken 'sie' have? And Why must simple verbs be made so difficult? This is a hilarious work that is made possibly more so by the genuine German accent of the fellow reading it. A must for all German learners!

Humorous, true:)

(4.5 stars)

Slowly trying to learn the German language for years, this short writing by Twain really tickled me; it is the awful truth! I laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes! A good reading, an amusing story, and definitely worth the listen! Thank you!

(5 stars)

Still so very, very true. I laughed out loud several times during this reading. It sounds like it is read by a native German with a good command of English.