English: language phenomenon


Senior Member
Hello. I have noticed that German people sometimes add "-n" to the end of a noun in the accusative case (only for certain words, not in general). I want to refer to this fact in an amusing way. Can I say that it is a language phenomenon? Thank you.

    Senior Member
    English-US, standard and medical
    Yes, but you will have to do a great deal of explaining for English-speaking people who do not speak German, and they will probably not find it amusing in any way.


    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Can you think of any examples of words where you've heard this being done, please?

    I can't say I've come across it - or not really in the way that you've described it.


    Senior Member
    @DonnyB here it is.

    Normally: a dog in German is "der Hund". "I see a dog." is "Ich sehe einen Hund.". Here there is no ending in addition.

    Not normally: In German a human is "der Mensch". But "I see a human." is "Ich sehe einen Menschen.". Here is the additional ending even "-en".

    Another example: in German a Czech guy is "der Tscheche". But "I see a Czech guy." is "Ich sehe einen Tschechen.". Here is the additional ending "-n".

    I don't want to discuss German grammar in the English Only section, I have posted this thread to ask native speakers of English how can I describe this issue in English.

    I am looking of a funny / amusing way to say that there is something weird in the German grammar. The word by word translation from the Czech language is "a language phenomenon"...


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I use the example 'who/whom' to explain to an English speaker how word endings can change according to the word's function.

    I can't think of an amusing way to say this.

    Added: I would call changing the endings this way an 'element' of a language.
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    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Changing a noun's form because of its case is called "declining the noun" in grammar. The noun form for this activity is "declension".

    You might be able to make a pun with other meanings of the verb "decline", but most people would not understand it. This meaning of "decline" is used when we study other languages that do it more than English.


    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Ah, I see what you mean. :idea:

    I suppose the 'correct' name for an additional ending like that is an inflection - from Lexico (Oxford Dictionaries) A change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, and gender.

    By and large English doesn't use inflections much whereas German and all the other languages I've learned do. But that's really a quirk of English rather than the other way round, and I can't really think of an amusing way of expressing that idea.


    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I think the quirk here is not that German has inflections, but that only a very small number of nouns get this particular inflection. It definitely qualifies as a quirk of German in my opinion, and I would say that’s an amusing enough way to put it.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Can I say that it is a language phenomenon?
    I'd say "It's a feature of the German language". I don't know why you would want that to sound amusing.

    Note that most English-speaking people have no idea what the accusative case is, and are unlikely to find German grammar (or grammar in general) in any way amusing.