German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German

April Wilson

Peter Lang 2007
A book review by Danny Yee © 2012
German Quickly is aimed at humanities graduates who need a reading knowledge of German for their research — perhaps theology or philosophy students in particular, given the examples it uses — but would work just as well for someone wanting to read German literature more broadly.

Wilson doesn't attempt a systematic treatment of grammar, but emphasizes those aspects of it necessary for reading. So there are chapters on the overloaded/extended adjective construction and on understanding the placement of commas, but the presentation of inflected forms is skewed to recognition rather than production. She also presents pragmatic rules rather than attempting a rigorous treatment. (There's an appendix covering "English grammar necessary for learning German".)

The included reading passages progress rapidly to actual texts, largely literary and philosophical, and the shorter examples and exercises are often proverbs, sayings or quotes from famous writers. A partial answer key is included.

Vocabulary is a big barrier for learners, especially those trying to read moderately sophisticated texts. To help prevent this being a sticking point, Wilson provides both a global vocabulary and vocabulary lists for each chapter, in which important and very important words are marked. As a hint, italics are used in the texts to mark words for which a useful English cognate exists. She also gives advice on using dictionaries and, in an appendix, a survey of the major options when choosing one. (She doesn't mention the online look-up options, which are hard to beat for sheer speed.)

I already had a reasonable amount of German, including some exposure to literary texts, and I found German Quickly pitched at a good level, refreshing some material and presenting other topics from a different perspective. It would I think be a real challenge for someone without any previous knowledge of German at all, especially for self-study, but it might be quite a fun challenge. (Though I would recommend doing some basic oral and aural work first, to get a feel for the sound of the language.)

April 2012

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%T German Quickly
%S A Grammar for Reading German
%A Wilson, April
%I Peter Lang
%D 2007
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780820467597
%P 432pp