It has gone to the Opera

In the German language, like many other languages, there is clash between the gender of words and the gender of what they refer to. When Mark Twain was learning German, he was intrigued by the fact that Rube ('turnip') is feminine, while Madchen ('girl') is neuter.

Consequently, in his work, A Tramp Abroad, Twain conjures up this dialogue:

Gretchen: Wilhelm, where is the turnip?
Wilhelm: She has gone to the kitchen.
Gretchen: Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?
Wilhelm: It has gone to the opera.

From A Tramp Abroad, vol. 2, appendix D: "The Awful German Language."

Ah, the things that amuse me far too much when I've been studying Hebrew syntax for far too long . . .
September 22, 2007


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