"Talking Germany" presenter Peter Craven speaks to Bastian Sick about grammar, major building sites and singing.
Bastian Sick has a way with words and people flock to read him and hear him speak. His particular love is the genitive, but he likes all German grammar. And, to prove it, he has written six books about linguistic idiosyncrasies. In his stage show, he proves how entertaining his native tongue can be. When Bastian Sick is teaching German, he has queues of eager students lining up to learn from him. He describes himself as someone who clears up untidy language and, as one who loves schmaltzy German folk music, he doesn’t only keep check of the written and spoken word but the sung one too.
Bastian first demonstrated a love of language as a young child. He got straight A’s for dictation at school and studied Romance languages and literature before going on to work as a lector and translator. He came to fame through his work as a columnist for the online edition of Spiegel magazine, and from there began to write books about the German language. When his work hit the best-seller list, he triggered a grammar boom in Germany. Bastian Sick doesn’t see himself as the head teacher of the German language, but as an entertainer. In 2004 he was elected language master of the year and in 2005 he was made an honorary member of the Association of the German Language. Bastian Sick’s column - called “Zwiebelfish” or “misprint” - made him a household name and he now freelances from his office in Hamburg’s harbour city. But thanks to his fans, who regularly provide him linguistic clangers to sort out, he still works for Spiegel online. And there is no end in sight to the work piling up for Germany’s favourite language entertainer.