A cheery toast to all who answered.
I began writing in my mid-teens. A paper I wrote at 15, in 1968, was titled 'Man' and got me into hot water (described in 'Return to the River of No Return.')
But not until 2007 when I entered a course to teach English as a foreign language (after writing in the language for more than forty years) did I know anything about its origins. As we were preparing to move to Germany, my wife's homeland, I was highly surprised and intrigued to learn of the Germanic origins of English.
Kati grew up in a tiny village on the Elbe river between Hamburg and Berlin. I read in my TEFL course that English had its beginnings in the region of the Elbe. With all the various and marvelous perspectives presented here, it is not my intention to make a statement of fact other than the fact that it is what I read.
We moved from Germany in 2008 and moved back here last summer. Now, to meet a requirement to enable me to stay legally in the country (until we move again,) I am attending Deutsch classes.
I haven't formed a complete viewpoint on this yet, but start to get a picture of how language influences the thinking and lives of the people. Our son in Germany made a comment that one reason people in this country in general have a dour expression on their faces is that the language forces the mouth into a certain position. He said the French, with a more musical language, seemed to him to generally have more uplifted faces. I am sure it has to do with many factors such as climate, economics, politics, culture, etc. But an interesting theory.
Today in Deutsch class it struck me that the formal and informal forms of the German language reinforce a separation of social rank. The teacher pointed to a picture of a man and used the formal. She said, 'respect.' She pointed to a picture of a child and used the informal and said, 'no respect.' Well sure, it is not to take too seriously as to how it was meant, but there is definitely something here for me to explore.
In the case of bringing out the individualized thoughts of well informed people such as those expressed in these answers, I love the metaphorical can of worms. Staying in metaphor, now I am going fishing.
Again, vielen dank.