On Twitter, user Anagrama directed my attention to a fun video: Rhabarberbarbara. (Video and translation below.)
The name of the video means “Rhubarb Barbara,” and it’s apparently a take on an old German tongue-twister.
One of the interesting features of the German language is its insistence on mashing words together to make one long word. For instance, while English makes “Residence Permit” two words, German uses only one: Aufenthaltsgenehmigung.
It’s one of the things that makes German frustrating for learners, but also fun. At some point, you just have to accept that long words are the way they are and you might as well try to enjoy this linguistic feature rather than run from it.
That’s one reason I like this video. It’s keeping things light. I’ve read some books by André Klein, an author who specializes in writing stories for German learners, and he’s really good at keeping the tone light in his books. The stories are carefully written, but at the same time they don’t take themselves too seriously. He’s written several books, but the two I’ve read are:
- Learn German With Stories: Café in Berlin – Short stories about an Italian guy who moves to Berlin.
- Learning German With Stories And Pictures: Bert Das Buch: or: How the books learned to love the future (German Edition) – Basically, a kid’s book for adult learners, complete with pictures and simplified language.
Those were both pretty fun and were a nice bridge from very simple texts you’d find in self-study courses and the chaos of authentic materials written for native speakers.
Anyway, here’s the Rhabarberbarbara video, followed by a translation. (Edit: I didn’t make the video, but I did create the translation.) I only defined each new tongue-twister word once to keep things short, so you’ll have to keep up a little. 😉
In a small village, there once lived a girl with the name Barbara.
And Barbara was known everywhere for her wonderful rhubarb cake.
Therefore she was also called Rhabarberbarbara (Rhubarb Barbara).
Rhabarberbarbara noticed quickly that she could make money with her cakes and opened a bar: The Rhabarberbarbarabar (Rhubarb Barbara Bar).
The Rhabarberbarbarabar went well and quickly had regular customers.
And the three most well-known of them, three Barbarians, came so often to the Rhabarberbarbarabar to eat Rhabarberbarbara’s delicious rhubarb cake that they were called the Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians) for short.
The Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren had beautiful beards. And when the Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren wanted to maintain their Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbärte (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians Beards), they went to the barber.
The only barber that could handle such a Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard) was called Rhabarberbarbarabarbabarenbartbarbier (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians Beard Barber).
The Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier also liked to go to the Rhabarberbarbarabar. And in addition to eating Rhabarberbarbara’s delicious rhubarb cake, he liked to drink a beer, which he ceremoniously called Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians Beard Barber Beer).
The Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier could only be purchased at a very specific bar.
And the person selling the Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier at the counter of the Rhabarberbarbarabarbabarenbartbarbierbierbar (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians Beard Barber Beer Bar) was named Bärbel.
And so the Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren, together with the Rhabarberbarbarabarbabarenbartbarbier and Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel (Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians Beard Barber Beer Bar Bärbel), went to the Rhabarberbarbarabar to eat Rhabarberbarbara’s delicious rhubarb cake and to clink a glass of Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier.