Why Germans are patient
You must have patience in order to understand the German language. Why? Because Germans are forever waiting for the verb. The German grammar allows you to form long sentences with several sub- and dependent clauses, and — depending on the tense used — the verb which actually tells you what was done appears at the very end of a monstrosity of a sentence. Let’s look at an example.
The English sentence “The dog has bitten the designer“, where “the dog” is our subject, the auxiliary third person form of “to have”, namely “has”, combined with the past participle “bitten” is our verb in the present perfect tense, and “the designer” is our object.
Good so far? Now let’s look at the German translation of that sentence and its structure: “Der Hund hat den Designer gebissen.” You will easily recognize the words because German is in many ways similar to English. Remember that German capitalizes all nouns. “Der Hund” is “the dog”, our subject, “den Designer” is “the designer”, and our object, with the word “der” declined to “den” to denote its clause in this particular sentence, which is the 4th clause, or accusative. “Hat gebissen” is our German verb in the present perfect tense, and is clearly related to “has bitten” in the English.
But look what has happened to the verb in the German sentence. It has had its auxiliary verb form of “to have” separated from the main verb “to bite”. “Der Hund hat den Designer gebissen.” An inter-verbal divorce has taken place, a bittersweet parting. To find out what the dog really did to the designer, you will just have to get in line like everyone else in the German-speaking world and wait, patiently, until the very last word of the sentence. The word “has” gives you a clue that the dog is the culprit, but then you are left out in the cold for a while, wondering whether the damn dog has licked, greeted, humped, drooled on, or, God forbid, bitten the designer.
No big deal, you say? How on earth does the fraction of a second that it takes to wait for the main verb to appear, indicate that Germans are patient? My friend, you have not yet encountered a full German multi-clause sentence. I gave you only the most basic example. Now we must add several clauses and subclauses to this basic structure, and watch how the auxiliary verb gets further separated from its lover, the main verb, and how the main verb tidily remains at the end of the main clause to welcome you when you get there. Then tell me the Germans are not patient.
“Der Hund, der allen schon sehr lange auf die Nerven gegangen war, weil er ständig im Studio herumrannte, Haare überall fallen liess, auf die Tastaturen sabberte, und sich darüber hinaus durch seinen starken Geruch unbeliebt machte, hat endlich, nachdem er schon wochenlang immer die Anstalten dazu gemacht hatte, und das auch durch lauter und lauter werdendes Knurren schon angezeigt hatte, den Designer, der das leider überhaupt nicht kommen gesehen hatte, gebissen.”
Do you really want a translation? Fine. Here’s my best attempt.
“The dog, which had been wearing on everyone’s nerves for the longest time, because he constantly ran around the studio, shedding hair all over the place, slobbering on the keyboards, and on top of it all did not make any friends due to his strong odour, has finally, after indicating this increasing tendency for weeks prior through his ever louder growling, bitten the designer, who unfortunately never saw it coming.”
If you want to read more, and better, read the famous and hilarious essay The Awful German Language by the immortal Mark Twain.