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How to study in German: A leaky language matter

18/06/2021
© aNadventures

Today, I met a dear friend for coffee. As he asked me about my plans for later in the evening, I tripped over my words. I wanted to say I’d be studying, which in German is often referred to as “etwas für die Uni tun”, the literal translation being “to do something for uni”. 

I must admit I feel very much repelled by stating these words. Simply because I don’t agree with them. I’m not doing something for uni. Or for work. Or for any other project. I’m doing something for myself. I feel that by stating I’m doing something for whatever, I’m being externally controlled instead of acting on the premise of my very own will power. 

I strongly believe that the words we choose to express ourselves shape the way we feel about our lives. I’m blessed to draw from a pool of several languages. Thereby, I’m able to compare alternative perspectives

I like the rather neutral statement in English: I’ll be studying. To study. It’s a verb. Quite straightforward. Same as in Spanish (estudiar) and French (étudier). The equivalent expression in Turkish would be “ders çalışmak”. Literally, this means “to work on lessons”. I’m very fond of that expression because it indicates an active behaviour, an effort leading up to something, instead of the external control I perceive when pronouncing the German words stated above.

In German, the verb “studieren” actually does exist. But it means “to study” in a much wider sense, as in “being a student” and “attending university”. So I’d rather stick to the Turkish way of expressing myself.  Next time someone asks me about my plans, I’ll say something along the lines of: “I’ll be learning my lessons. For uni and for life.” 

How about YOU? Do you also sometimes lack accurate expressions in one language or another? How do you deal with such “leaky language matters”? I’d love to read about your experiences. 

From → Tip of my Tongue

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