I’m not sure whether “Der Adam Szymzyk wirft der Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev den Ball zu” is a sentence I would ever actually use — it means “Adam Szymzyk throws the ball to Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev” — but Stine Marie Jacobsen’s German for Artists (Broken Dimanche Press) is not so much a practical guide as a humorous take on an art scene that is often stereotyped or ridiculed. (One imagines black-clad, emotionally-detached Volk from Mitteleuropa, calmly sipping Riesling while techno music thumps in the background. As you might expect, the phrase “I would like a white wine spritzer” — “Ich möchte eine Weissweinschorle” — is included.)
Sure, this pocketbook might prove helpful for art nerds looking for creative ways to brush up on modal verbs, such as “I have to/must” — my German is nonexistent, so it was pretty useless as a way to kickstart that process — but ultimately it’s more about the idea of the book than its practicality. Maybe you won’t actually say, “Ich arbeite nicht kostenlos, aber manchmal passiert es.” (I don’t work for free, but sometimes it happens.) But in this day and age, it’s not hard to see its relevance at an art fair or arts nonprofit party.
Perhaps I should’ve first picked up Jacobsen’s German for Newcomers, also from Broken Dimanche Press, as it offers more simplified lessons — but even when I did that, I wished I had taken a basic German language class before diving in.
Ultimately, the most useful phrase in German for Artists may be the one on page 124: “Könnnen wir bitte über die Kunst auf Englisch reden?” Can we please talk about the art in English?