Are you a male or a mouse?

On Sunday evening, I went out for a meal with Manfredas. As part of my stirring dinner conversation repartee, somehow the conversation turned to mice. (Don’t ask me how – I normally  have so many random thoughts milling around in my head, it’s hard to tell where one burbling session ends and the next begins.)

Me: So, das Maus…

Manfredas: Die.

Me: What?

Manfredas: Die Maus. Not “das” Maus.

Me: Well, that just makes no sense.

Manfredas: Why not?

Me: (sigh/eye-roll combo) Becaaaause Maus ends in “s” and so does “das.” Easier to remember. And it’s “das Haus”  and “Haus” rhymes with “Maus.” Das Haus, das Maus. The house, the mouse. Simple.

Manfredas: NEIN!

Me: Wait, so all mice are feminine in German?

Manfedas: Yes.

Me: What about Mickey?

Manfredas: Still DIE MAUS.

Me: So, what… just because some German grammarian says so, Germans have the right to give one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time a sex-change? I mean, it’s all well and good for Minnie but poor Mickey! Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave! 

Manfredas: …

Me: You know, “mickey” is Irish slang for “penis.”

Manfredas: What does that have to do with anything?

Me: Absolutely nothing.

Manfredas: …

Me: It’s DER Frosch (the frog), right?

Manfredas: Yes. 

Me: Good, so Kermit is safe. But DAS Schwein (the pig)?

Manfredas: Yes.

Me: Miss Piggy will not be best pleased with the Germans. 

Manfredas: Are you going to go through the entire cast of The Muppets? 

Me: Erm…

Not really sure what Gonzo is supposed to be, I decided to quit while I was behind and get on with the business of eating.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I am available for dinner parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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52 thoughts on “Are you a male or a mouse?”

  1. It all sounds terribly complicated – I think I’ll just stick with French, where I was taught that if it ends with ‘e’ it’s feminine. That’s probably complete rubbish, of course, but it helped us when we were at school. I do feel for people who are trying to learn English – it is possibly the most complicated of all! 😀

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    1. It is rather complicated! Well, to speak it well at any rate. Speaking it badly isn’t that difficult 😉 Had great fun this morning with students trying to pronounce “insecticides” – not sure I’ve ever said it in real life but the books put some random readings in there!!

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  2. And by the way: Watching “Die Sendung mit der Maus” gives you bonus points on becoming german and you can skip quite a few (like up to roughly 2.734) of the 473,937,493 necessary steps by just watching ONE episode. It is top notch german culture.

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    1. Ooh, that sounds good! Must check out when it’s on. Do you know? Kind of addicted to Gefragt Gejagt right now – also very good for listening/vocab. And general pub quiz knowledge!

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  3. A german male mouse is called “der Mäuserich”. Like die Ente/der Enterich (alt. der Erpel) , die Gans/der Gänserich. Yes, german fauna-related vocabulary really IS complicated ;). But come on: singular “mouse” and plural “mice” …. ?

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    1. Ha, OK, I’ll give you that one! Going by my own logic, it should be house – hice in English haha! At least most English plurals are pretty straightforward though. One of my students told me she had “ice foots” the other day – cutest thing ever, if completely wrong 😉 Thanks for commenting!

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      1. house – hice! Ha ha. Ok, most English plurals are pretty straightforward, I agree. English is most difficult when it comes to pronouncation, I guess? A century ago I was a German exchange student in England. One day, I had to read out a chapter of a book (I do not recall which one it was) in our English literature class in front of the class (all native speakers). I came across the word “plough” for the first time in my life. Knowing the word “enough” I decided that the correct pronouncation can only be “pluff”. I was wrong. At least everyone had a laugh.

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  4. HA! After all this time you honestly thought the fact that two words rhyme meant anything? Silly, silly Linda! Das Haus, die Maus, die Laus, der Klaus (okay, the last one is a name so it’s cheating a bit 😉 )

    I was taught that animals are usually “der” because we assume they’re male – so a dog is “der Hund” unless we know for a fact it’s a “Hundin” (unless you specifically the word for the female animal, hence die Katze, but der Kater; die Sau and der Eber). It works for most of them as well – der Igel, der Bär, der Wal, der Affe. Then I learned “die Maus”, “die Schildkröte” and “das Schwein” and wanted to kill all Germans! (I can let them off with “das Eichhörnchen” since it’s the -chen rule).

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    1. Urgh, Laus is female 🙂 Yeah, I guess sometimes I still try to oversimplify things in the hopes that it might actually work! Affe should be die according to the two-syllable ending in -e rule. Guess that fails a lot too… German, eh?!

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      1. I said “die Name” for years because of that stupid “two syllables, ends in e = die” rule. Turns out it’s der Name and der Käse. Grrr! And it definitely doesn’t work for animals – der Affe, der Löwe, der Bulle, der Drache, der Hase…

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  5. 1. I didn’t know that about Irish and mickeys. Do the Irish use the British phrase “taking the mickey out of someone”? If so, I can see conversations taking a very weird turn very suddenly.

    2. I think it was Mark Twain who said something about German being a language in which a turnip was feminine but a girl was neuter. Go figure.

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    1. Ha, yeah, he wrote a book called The Awful German Language – it’s not that bad really though 😉 And yes, the Irish do use that expression for taking the piss out of someone too. But now that I read your comment, it also sounds like a contraceptive method haha!

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  6. Agh! Don’t confuse me! Die Maus is one of the few ones that I always remember, thanks to long weekends with friends when their Kinder were small. Both the girls were ‘die Maus’ when they were babies. 🙂

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      1. For your edification: “The turkey vulture, also known in some North American regions as the turkey buzzard, and in some areas of the Caribbean as the John crow or carrion crow, is the most widespread of the New World vultures.” (Wikipedia) We have LOTS of turkey buzzards/vultures in Florida. Impressively large birds, but ugly heads. You can grace my dinner table anytime, Linda! But the sexual orientation of articles in German (as well as Spanish, etc.) does drive me to distraction. In reality, if you get “wrong” (das maus vs die maus), are you actually misunderstood … Manfredas does not know what you mean, or is just an annoyance for the listener? Just thinking about how in English, people can use incorrect grammar and usage and yet still be understood (even if painfully).

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        1. Yeah, someone would understand that! The Germans are pretty patient when it comes to the language. They know how awful the articles are for foreigners! I’m probably still pretty painful to listen to though 😉
          Thank you for the buzzard knowledge – could come in handy for a pub quiz sometime – no buzzards in Ireland so not that familiar! And you’re more than welcome to come to dinner here too. Manfredas will cook so we all survive the experience 🙂

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