Mastering a language is like building a mechanical horse. You must first assemble a structure, slowly fill it in with many thousands of finely calibrated and interrelated cogs, then learn to steer it well if you’re to give off the illusion of naturalistic movement. For German, with all its linguistic mechanics, the metaphor is particularly apt. My own PFERD can, as yet, only manage a clunky limp. ICH HABE SCHON PFERDE KOTZEN SEHEN literally means “I’ve seen horses puke,” and is a proverb used to express that something impossible has occurred — similar to the English proverb “pigs might fly.” It is both a summation of how I feel about ever mastering the German tongue and a good example of the kind of language games that sustain me in that process.
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