Quite how I found myself singing Olde Englishe songs with the Yeoman Warders in the RAF Club this week is anybody's guess, but I've been invited back to the Tower of London itself for a vocal rematch.  These fair-of-voice regal soldiers are very special people, as so few get to ever become a Beefeater, yet they continue a tradition that's lasted over 700 years:  the locking of the Tower of London every night, called the Ceremony of the Keys.

This reminded me of the history of language and how it, too, develops over hundreds of years:  no language can afford to remain static, as it will die out (like Latin did.)  Languages evolve, change and adapt, and German is no exception. Germany was divided into many different states that did not begin unification until the early 1800s, so German was spoken in many different dialects.  Written German gradually become the standard by which the states monitored & corrected spoken use, and Hochdeutsch (High German) became the standard for all German in pronunciation and spelling.  German is much easier than English to pronounce, as it follows set rules:  ie is spoken as ee and ei is spoken as eye, so the song Mein Teil 'mine tile' (my part, or piece) is ei, yet Wiener Blut 'veener bloot' (Viennese Blood) is ee. Always.  

A w is spoken as v Ich will 'ee-uch vill' (I want), and a v is spoken as fow.  So the German car maker Volkswagen 'folks-waagen' (Volk = people, Wagen = car) is shortened to V W, which is spoken as Fow-Vee.  German lost the TH sound we have in mother, leather, father in a sound shift in the 5th Century, where German & English started to divide.  So German says Mutter, Leder, Vater (a hard d or t, and Vater is spoken as faa-ter; don't forget the 'v as f' rule) - day is Tag, thanks is Danke, thing is Ding.... The list goes on:  learn the rule, the common sounds that still exist between our two languages, and you will pick up words quickly (and even be able to say them!)


And song is a wonderful way to express language through the ages - wish me luck in my Yeoman Song Quest, and if no further blogs appear on this site, then do come and visit me in the Tower.  Hopefully my head will still be upon my shoulders:  failure is not an option!