A couple of months back, I posted on some resources for the German language—theological German in particular, although I think those wishing to learn modern German could benefit from those resources. In doing study for my master’s thesis, I came upon Der Gesandte und sein Weg im 4. Evangelium, Jan-Adolf Bühner’s monograph in Mohr-Siebeck‘s WUNT II series. Although there are reviews in English on it, Der Gesandte itself is published only in German and is not translated into English at the present time. This means only one thing: theological German is a must for me.
In order to continue to increase in German proficiency, I continue to seek out more resources. One thing I learned when taking language courses at the undergraduate level is that one can never have too many resources. Those that I listed in the previous post have been quite helpful; I have especially appreciated Michael Halcomb‘s list of 200 most frequently encountered words in the first two pages of a German article. But since I do much of my German study away from my computer, I needed material that I could use apart from the electronics.
After searching a while on the web, I found this page on Nijay Gupta‘s blog where the recommended German grammar was April Wilson, German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German, 3rd ed. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002). The following is a brief review on Wilson’s grammar that I posted on my theological German class/group forum:
Hi again everyone,
There is a grammar by Wilson that I happened to get my hands on last night. After a cursory skim through it, my initial conclusion is that it is quite useful. For example, one help it gave was that all nouns that have the definite article “die” plus an -en ending will be plural (e.g., die Männen). Another help was that virtually all present tense indicative verbs in 1st plural (wir), 3rd plural (sie), and 2nd formal (Sie) were in the infinitive form (except for sein – and the grammar notes its forms); while Manton notes this (p.17), it is not clearly stated and Graves seems to lack that observation. It also pointed out things like word order (e.g., sometimes a sentence appears as Object-Verb-Subject).
Another thing that makes it useful is that the table of contents has each chapter’s specific grammar points in bold, which eases finding a certain grammatical aspect. Like Manton, this grammar also has a set of vocabulary words but it goes beyond Manton by starring the ones that should (or must?) be memorized.
It seems that the grammar was made to help one be able to read literature and seems to cover both theological and modern German literature grammatical nuances (for example, it notes that the formal “Sie” is used in literature; it also recommends Ziefle’s MTG Reader as a means to practice reading German).
One thing a Barnes and Noble reviewer noted is that there are some mistakes (here) but the reviewer is not very specific about these mistakes. [UPDATE : I have noted a couple of mistakes so far and while they can confuse the beginning student they are minor once one’s familiarity with the language increases.]
This seems to be a solid reference grammar and perhaps could also be an instruction grammar as well. It seems that those who has used it for self-study have gotten great results. I think it can be a supplement to Manton and Graves. I also like Graves’ grammar but I think Wilson’s gives a different and more user-friendly take on German but they both have their own unique approaches to German.
That review was posted around a month ago and I have used Wilson quite a bit since then. Regarding its usefulness so far, German Quickly has helped my learning better than the other book resources. There is the possibility it may not be as helpful for everyone as it has been for me. From the Amazon reviews, however, it appears that many have found it rather beneficial.
UPDATE: Andy Rowell has a theological German grammar and textbook review page here.