In this part of the series on Languages Matter: Why we learn German, we are featuring Melissa (MJ) Durkee, Associate Professor in the School of Law at the University of Washington.
“German is a key language in law. Not only is the German Civil Code one of the most influential historical legal texts, but Germany is now home to many legal thought leaders, and is a global influencer in international law. As a law professor with a focus on international law, I had always intended to learn German eventually. Then, this summer, I had the unique privilege to take the German department’s intensive summer course. The course is indeed intensive! Over the course of 9 weeks we had a brisk tour of the entire first-year German curriculum. It was a very effective way to get started. While I am not quite capable of legal German yet, 9 weeks gave me a lot: during a trip to Germany right afterward, I found I could hold my own in daily conversations without switching back to English. I credit this success to really inspired teaching, as well as the camaraderie of a diverse group of fellow students. German also turned out to be a really engaging language to learn: It’s a bit of a real-time logic puzzle, and really fun to read and speak. Next up: German 201.”