David had a tick. It almost caused him bodily pain when his fellow human beings made grammatical mistakes, and most of all he suffered from omitting the ‘n’ in the dative plural. Therefore, the student in his environment was called only Dative-David.
In many restaurants in the city he already had a house ban. As soon as the menu was handed to him, he pulled out his pen and began looking for violations of the dative rule and using the missing ‘n’. Whether “Sauerbraten with dumplings” or “vegetable stew with potato cubes” – everything aroused his displeasure. Especially cases like the latter, where the plural looks like the singular because of the mistake, often led to lengthy discussions with the staff. (“I wish several potato cubes!” – “Why, of course there are several in there!” – “Yes, but then there must be an ‘n’ behind it, ‘with potato cube n ‘! Without, n ‘it is only one !”)
Although David did not look bad, he had no luck with the fair femininity, because which woman is constantly thinking of rules when talking? Even students of German literature who had internalized the grammar became uncertain and stuttered when they realized that their companion was paying less attention to the content than the final consonant of their speech. For more than a week, no one could withstand him.
Two of the few friends he still had were his fellow students André and Patrick. They were worried about him. “He should seek professional help,” André said. Patrick agreed, but was skeptical that David would be willing to.
A week later, Patrick went to André to bring back a book. When he arrived at André’s dorm, he could not believe his eyes. On the sofa sat a beautiful young woman whom he had never seen before. André was amused when he noticed the friend’s surprise. “That’s Maija. She also studies here and comes from Finland. “
The two greeted each other. Maija spoke an excellent German, with a very slight accent. “You think,” said André, “Maija wants to help David lose his mark. We developed a plan … “Amazed, Patrick heard what André and Maija had come up with.
When the Finn had said goodbye, the two friends sat a little bit together again. “I thought she was your new one,” Patrick laughed. “It would be nice,” replied André grinning, “but I’m obviously not her type. Now I’m curious if our plan leads to success. “
The next day, as always, David was sitting alone at a table at the university when Maija approached him. “Hello, are you David? I have heard of you already. You’re an expert in the field of German grammar, right? “
Extremely flattered, David nodded. “That’s great,” said Maija, “then maybe we can work together. My name is Maija and I’m from Helsinki. My native language is Finnish. It’s even more complicated than German, because it has not four, but fifteen cases. “
“Wow!” David exclaimed.
“And besides, there are even twelve adverbial casinos, which are only used for a few words at a time. Most Finns believe that no foreigner can learn all cases and their application. I want to test that in German speakers and start with you, because if you can not do it, I do not need to try others. Here, on these pages the Finnish cases – only the fifteen main ones – are put together and explained in German. Could you please read this through tomorrow? Then we’ll meet again here, at the same time. “
Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, Partitive, Inessive, Elative, Illative, Adessive, Ablative, Allative, Essive, Translative, Abessive, Instructive, Comitative. “You do not have a dating?” David asked when they saw each other again.
“No, after all, you can not have everything,” Maija laughed, “but the allative is often the German dative. Did you understand everything that is on the leaves here? “
David pressed something around and finally had to admit that after the seventh or eighth case he only read the names of the other cases and did not know them anymore. “It is indeed true,” he said, “that your grammar is simply too heavy for non-native speakers. Except maybe for some scholars who specialize in Finnish. “
Maija made a disappointed face. “You just say that! At least you should know about cases. “
“I do too. In my own language! And I could also learn a language with six or seven cases if necessary. But fifteen are just too much. “
“Let’s not try it? Look, this is easy – “
“No !!” At the same moment he already regretted being so rude. “Sorry, Maija, I did not mean to offend you. But what does not work, that’s just not possible. By the way, I have to go to a lecture now. Have a nice day!”
When he was out of earshot, Maija grabbed her cell phone and called André. “It starts well,” she giggled, “he reacted as he hoped.”
Two days later, David saw in the university with surprise a trio coming towards him: Maija, André and a young man in artisan clothing. “Hello David,” said André, “this is Kevin. We know each other from before. I’ll show him the university a bit. “
David greeted Kevin and the other two. “Great looks here, boah,” enthused Kevin, who apparently came from the deepest Ruhr. “Sorry, I do not have much time. I have to go to the millers in the basement. There is no heating wiht heating. I’ve gotten to Herr Miiller, I’ll come soon. “
“Yes, that’s always good when craftsmen are quick,” David nodded kindly.
The three went on to an adjoining room and closed the door so David would not hear. “Can not believe it!” Exclaimed André. “He has not once made a face.”
“And I was trying to talk as wrong as possible,” laughed Kevin, who was actually a teacher and had borrowed the craftsman outfit from his amateur play group.
Maija was as euphoric as one would have expected from a Northern European. “Our plan works!”
“Please explain it to me, please,” Kevin asked. “How is it that David is not so allergic to grammatical errors?”
“Well,” answered André, “David had to admit to Maija that he was unable to learn the fifteen cases of Finnish. For him, of course, that was a defeat. To protect the face, he now acts as if grammar was completely irrelevant. “
“I see,” Kevin grinned. “The fox to whom the grapes hang too high says they are angry.”
Several weeks had passed since then. André and Patrick watched with astonishment the miraculous change of their friend. Although he continued to speak correctly, he was no longer concerned about others’ mistakes.
But most of all, Maija was astonished. David and her met every now and then in a café, and although his menu was filled with errors, David’s pen remained in his pocket.
“Say, Maija,” he asked her one day, “do you really have to learn all fifteen cases to speak Finnish?”
Maija looked up in surprise from her sundae. “No of course not. For foreigners a basic vocabulary is sufficient. Do you want to learn Finnish? Why?”
“For your sake,” answered David. Hesitantly, he added: “I know a little poem there. It was written in the nineteenth century by Adolf Glaßbrenner and is partly written in the Berlin dialect, but you will understand it anyway. “He gathered all his courage, looked Maija in the eyes and said:
I love you, I love you,
how’s it right, I do not know it,
but my heart beats so fast!
I do not love the third case,
I do not love the fourth case,
I certainly love it.