Meine lieben Studenten!

My dear Students!





When I was in a German POW camp during WWII, the commandant lined us up, made us stand at attention, and instructed us all to move our heads from side to side while saying "tick -- tock -- tick -- tock." I was in a rebellious mood and began to move my head only to one side, saying only "tick -- tick -- tick." The commandant sneered at me and said, "Ve haf vays of making you tock!"

This lesson will deal with the fourth and fifth commandments. Remember to make your vocabulary cards (no cyber-substitutes!). Study them ALOUD.

Read these commandments and their meanings over and over and over in German to get the feeling (das Sprachgefuehl, the language-feeling) of the words in context.

If you pronounce German correctly, the muscles around your mouth will feel tired if you do it very long. That is true of just about any foreign language--and different muscles are used. Most languages have more and bigger movements of the mouth than does English. I don't advocate smoking, but I read in an older book that one can speak English while holding a cigarette (or pencil or whatever) in his mouth. This book said that one could not do so when speaking Spanish--but I would say that the same is true of German. So German is healthy -- it can help you stop smoking -- unless you're not very talkative.

As always, the grammatical explanations are for those who want them and already understand them. They can be ignored. You could learn quite a bit just by looking at which word is what. I include the explanations because most of the subscribers are pastors who have studied Greek, at least, which is much harder than German.

[If you have any questions, PLEASE ask so that I can make these lessons better. Please excuse any errors. I'm making this up as I go along and don't have time for the proof-reading that would be necessary if I should ever decide to publish these lessons as a little textbook.]





Die dritte Lektion

The third Lesson


Das vierte Gebot

The fourth Commandment


das -- the -- definite article, neuter nominative singular.

vierte -- fourth -- the "t" turns it from "four" ("vier") to "fourth," the "e" is an ending; we're not worrying about adjectival endings--not worth explaining.

Gebot -- commandment -- neuter noun.


Du sollst deinen Vater und deine Mutter ehren auf dass dir's

Thou shouldest thy father and thy mother honor so that to thee it


wohl gehe, und du lange lebest auf Erden.

well goes and thou long livest on earth.


Du -- thou -- second person singular personal pronoun.

sollst -- shouldest -- helping verb "sollen" -- second person singular.

deinen -- thy -- possessive pronoun of du/thou. The "en" is the masculine singular accusative ending--indicating the direct object--father is the one to be receiving the honoring.

Vater -- father -- der Vater, masculine noun. Cognate. One of the most common cognates in the Indo-European languages--pater, padre, etc.

Note: remember that the German "v" is pronounced "f." Vater is FAH-ter.

und -- and -- cognate

deine -- thy -- possessive pronoun from du/thou. The "e" is the feminine singular accusative ending--the mother is the one to be honored.

Mutter -- mother -- die Mutter, feminine noun -- cognate. Another very common cognate in Indo-European -- mater, madre, etc.

Note: the double consonants -- in ths case, the repetition of the "t" -- make the preceding vowel SHORT. So this "u" sounds like the "oo" in "foot," NOT in "boot." Moot-ter--one "t" with the preceding syllable, one after.

ehren -- to honor -- verb in the infinitive. The related noun is "die Ehre."

auf dass -- so that -- "auf" means "onto" or "upon." Here it only goes along with the "dass," which is the cognate to "that" as a conjunction -- expressing purpose.

dir's -- contraction for dir es -- to thee it."

dir -- to thee -- dative singular second person pronoun. The dative case is the indirect object--or in many uses in which we might use "to" or "for."

es -- it -- neuter singular third person pronoun.

wohl -- well -- adverb -- cognate.

gehe -- may go -- from gehen -- cognate. "Gehe" is third person singular (with "it") present tense -- but "subjunctive" -- expressing wish, hope, purpose rather than stating a fact -- so that it "may go" well.

Note: DON'T WORRY -- be happy -- German uses the subjunctive more than English. I will point it out with its meaning. In English, the subjunctive is mostly limited to stock phrases. "God bless you" ("Gott segne Dich") is subjunctive--expressing the wish; "God blesses you" (Gott segnet Dich") is indicative--stating the fact.

und -- and -- cognate.

Du -- thou

lange -- long -- adverb.

Note: German adverbs do NOT add anything like "ly" as a rule.

lebest -- mayest live -- from "leben," to live; second person singular present subjunctive. The "e" is long--followed by only one consonant--LAY-best.

auf -- upon -- preposition.

Erden -- earth -- cognate. "Auf" takes the dative case when there is no movement indicated, as here. The nominative singular of this noun is "die Erde." It is archaic to add the "n" for later cases, especially for a feminine noun.

Note: modern German--always in writing, usually in conversation--puts the verb at the end of a subordinate clause. So in modern German, "auf Erden" would come before "lebest." But the rule was not so rigid in Luther's German.

Note: most German catechisms do not include the second clause "that it may be well..." in the Fourth Commandment.


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer.


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir unsere Eltern

We should God fear and love, that we our parents


und Herren nicht verachten noch erzuernen, sondern sie in

and lords not despise nor anger, rather them in


Ehren halten, ihnen dienen, gehorchen, [sie] lieb und wert haben.

honor hold, them serve, obey, [them] dear and worthy have.


The following are all cognates. I will not repeat the explanation; see previous commandments.

Wir -- we

Sollen -- should

Gott -- God

fuerchten -- fear

und -- and

lieben -- love

dass -- that

wir -- we

unsere -- our -- from unser -- cognate -- the "e" is the plural nominative ending.

Eltern -- parents -- cognate to "elders," used specifically for parents in German. There is no singular; in German one doesn't say "parent" but specifies father or mother--die Eltern is plural.

und -- and

Herren -- lords -- plural of "der Herr." masculine plural accusative.

nicht -- not

verachten -- despise; explained in Third Comm. "Achten" is "to regard." The prefix "ver" is often negative--so to have a negative regard for -- to despise. The "ver" is NOT emphasized: fehr-AHCH-ten.

noch -- nor -- "noch" is an adverb which usually means "still" or "yet." But in a position such as this, it is used to extend the negation--so "nor." So "noch" does not usually have a negative meaning in German--only in this usage (weder . . . noch, neither . . . nor).

Note: in most Indo-European languages, negative words often start with "n."

sondern -- rather -- conjunction. This is a subordinating conjunction--so the verbs that follow it in the clause tend to come at the end of the clause. This conjunction signals a very definite change in meaning--a switch in direction--that is, the opposite.

sie -- them -- plural accusative personal pronoun. "Sie" is used in several different ways. DON'T WORRY (be happy); I will point them out. You'll get used to it.

in -- in -- preposition

Ehren -- honor -- die Ehre -- feminine noun, used in the dative here as the object of the preposition.

halten -- hold -- cognate.

ihnen -- them -- DATIVE plural -- some German verbs take the dative for their object--because one could understand the meaning as "to" or "for." The "h" makes the "i" long -- EE-nen.

dienen -- serve. This verb takes the dative -- as in "be of service TO."

Note: this phrase rhymes: EE-nen DEE-nen.

Note: going back to the days of the English kings who came from Germany (George I, George II, George III)--the House of Hanover, still the ruling house of the United Kingdom--they changed their name to Windsor during WWI--the motto of the Prince of Wales still today is: "Ich dien"" -- "I serve." If you go into a store in Germany today, the clerk may well ask: "Wie kann ich Ihnen dienen," "How can I serve you."

gehorchen -- obey -- also takes the dative -- "be obedient TO." The "ge" is an unaccented prefix: geh-HOR-chen.

Note: that "ch" is somewhat gutteral. German will clear the throat.

Note: Gehorchen "obey" is from "horchen" "hear" or "listen to." "Horchen" is cognate to "harken." The imperative (command) "Hark!" is "Horch!" As a matter of interest, a German family name "Horch" went into the auto business. But "horch" is a harsh sound to ears in other parts of Europe. So the name was translated into Latin: "Audi" -- from audire, to hear, as in "audience," the listeners collectively. (In the same way "Daimler-Benz" was changed to "Mercedes-Benz" to boost sales in France--Mercedes was the daughter of one of the salesmen.)

[sie] -- them -- accusative plural. The editors of the Triglotta insert it here because the following verbs take the accusative for the direct object.

lieb -- dear -- cognate ("love").

und -- and

wert -- worthy -- cognate

haben -- have -- cognate.

Note: we may say: "Love and value them," most of us memorized: "hold them in love and esteem." Same difference. "Liebhaben" is a verb for "to love" -- "Ich habe Dich lieb" -- I love thee/I have thee dear. Try it on your spouse.


Das fuenfte Gebot

The fifth Commandment


fuenf -- five

fuenft -- fifth -- "e" -- adjectival ending-- DON'T WORRY (be happy).


Note: see pronunciation. "u umlaut" or "ue" is like the German "i" -- that is, either ee (long) or ih (short) with the lips puckered a bit. For example, the last name of J. T. Mueller sounds very much like Miller (which is what it means). He was NOT J. T. Myoo-ler!


Du sollst nicht toeten

Thou shouldest not kill.


tot -- dead -- cognate -- adjective

toeten -- to kill -- the related verb.

Note: while the cognate to "tot" is "dead" (same meaning), the cognate to "toeten" is "deaden" (DIFFERENT MEANING). "Toeten" means "to make dead" in the sense of really dead--not just numb, as in "deaden."


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer


Note: If you have the Triglotta, see how beautifully short the German is: "What's that?" The Latin translation is: "Quae est huius praecepti sententia?" "What is the meaning of this commandment?" That is a stylistic matter, not a linguistic one.


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir unserm

We should God fear and love [so] that we [to] our


Naechsten an seinem Leibe keinen Schaden noch Leid

neighbor in his body no harm nor hurt


tun, sondern ihm helfen und foerdern in allen Leibesnoeten.

do, rather him help and further in all body-needs.


Wir -- we

sollen -- should

Gott -- God

fuerchten -- fear

und -- and

lieben -- love

dass -- [so] that

wir -- we

Note: "dass" is a subordinating conjunction -- so look for the verb[s] at the end of the clause. If you're reading the Triglotta, the double "s" is written with a letter that looks like the Greek beta.

unserm -- our -- possessive adjective; the "m" indicates dative singular masculine; dative has the meaning "to" or "for" -- here it is the indirect object.

Naechsten -- neighbor -- distant cognates. Neighbor is one who is nigh or near (German: nah). Naechst is the superlative -- nearest -- which is also the original meaning of "next." "Der Nachbar" is the closer cognate to "neighbor."

an -- on -- cognate. Prepositions that are cognates are SELDOM used exactly the same way in any two languages. Here it could be "on," "in," or "to."

seinem -- his -- possessive pronoun. The "m" indicates the dative neuter singular (same as for masculine), agreeing with the noun "Leib."

Leibe -- body -- das Leib (neuter noun). The "e" is an archaic usage, an ending for the dative singular for masculine and neuter nouns of one syllable. It has not real significance--just a vestige of an older usage.

keinen -- no, none -- "kein" (none) negates "ein" (one). The "en" is the accusative singular masculine ending -- going with Schaden.

Schaden -- harm, damage -- der Schade, masculine noun -- adds "n" in cases other than nominative (subject of sentence).

Note: "Schade!" is used in German as an exclamation roughly equivalent to "That's a shame" or "That's too bad!" (The French use "Domage!" in the same sense.)

noch -- nor -- adverb.

Leid -- hurt, pain -- das Leid, neuter noun.

Note: Germans say, "Das tut mir Leid" "That does [to] me pain" in the sense of "I'm sorry to hear that." (Compare Spanish: Lo siento, I feel it.)

tun -- do -- cognates.

Note: as strange as it sounds, both "do" and "tun" are cognates with the Greek very "tithemi," "to put." If you read much in older German (Walther or before, perhaps also in Pieper), you may see an extra "h" -- "thun." That changes neither the pronunciation nor the meaning.

sondern -- rather -- subordinating conjunction -- look for the verb[s] at the end of the clause.

ihm -- him -- dative singular masculine personal pronoun. The dative -- "to" or "for" or indirect object -- is used after certain German verbs -- in this case, "helfen" "to help," "to give help to."

Note: In English we have only one objective case and do not distinguish dative and accusative (except when we use "to" or "for" or distinguish direct and indirect objects by word order). For some reason, in both masculine and feminine, the DATIVE, not the accusative, pronoun has survived (ihm/him, ihr/her) rather than the accusative (which did exist in Anglo-Saxon).

helfen -- help -- cognate.

und -- and

foerdern -- to further, to promote -- cognate.

Note: once again, the older German has something after the verb in a subordinate clause, which would NEVER be done in good modern written German.

in -- in (takes the dative case for its object when there is no motion)

allen -- all -- cognate -- "en" indicates the dative plural.

Note: the dative plural for ANY and ALL genders ALWAYS ends in "n" -- both adjectives and nouns.

Leibesnoeten -- body-needs. Das Leib (with "es" for possessive) plus die Not (plural: Noete, plus the "n" for the dative) are combined.

Note: German loves to put nouns together -- we do the same but write them as separate words -- or we may use an adjective, as most of us memorized here: "in every bodily need." When two nouns are combined, the gender is that of the SECOND one: die Leibesnot, the body-need.


Hier endet die dritte Lektion.

Here endeth the third lesson.


Historical note: German was not a single, fixed literary language before Luther's day. It was fluid, colloquial, and divided into many dialects. But the government of Bavaria took steps to standardize the language for legal purposes, looking for a standard form that would be most widely understood in southern Germany. The government of Electoral Saxony, where Luther lived, adopted this language also. Luther adopted and adapted it for his Bible translation. If you go to the Weimar Ausgabe (edition) of Luther's works, where everything is in the original, Luther's earlist German writings are in the Saxon dialect. Once the Reformation was really under way and spreading quickly, one finds Luther more and more using this standard. Luther's Bible translation was MUCH more influential than the KJV on the style and standard of the language.

By the by, because this standard came from southern Germany, which is higher in elevation (the Alps), this standard came to be called "high German." There is a great difference between high German and "low German" (Plattdeutsch, "flat German") spoken in the north, where the land is low and flat. That is one reason why Bugenhagen, who was from Pomerania in the north, was the one who went on "missions" to spread the Reformation in the far north--and in Denmark.

John M. "Herr Professor Pastor Doktor" Drickamer, Lakeview, Oregon

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