Sex in German Waters

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Norfolk Broads No wonder some find German a pretty difficult language to learn. Just think about it: The ocean is male – Der Ozean –, but you can also call it das Meer,  which is neutral. The sea is die See, female, unless you are referring to a lake, in which case it becomes male: Der See.

The river is male –Der Fluß-, and so is the stream: Der Bach. Ignore for a moment that my home dialect also allows for the female stream: Die Bach. A small creak is neutral –Das Bächlein-.

It’s only logical, and perhaps the only thing logical here, that water itself, given its multi-gender deployment, is neutral: Das Wasser.

None of this holds when you switch to the plural of course.

Phew! I’m glad I don’t need to learn it.

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