One of my professors is the editor of a prestigious historical journal. “There’s a great article in here that might pertain to your thesis,” he told me yesterday during our weekly thesis meeting, passing the latest edition of the journal across the desk to me.
When I went to skim the article, my heart sank. The entire thing was written in German, a language I neither speak nor read. “I don’t speak German,” I told him unnecessarily. (He knows that my main foreign languages are Russian and Ukrainian.*)
Most of the graduate school programs I have seen require a reading knowledge of either French or German, so the odds are I will be learning German someday (though I’d prefer to do French, as I think it’s easier). “Learn German,” a medieval literature PhD told me earlier this week. While admitting that he was not at all familiar with my field, he said that “German scholarship has grown more and more dynamic during the past few decades.”
The professor who showed me the article in German agreed with that. He’s never led me wrong, so it looks like I will be learning German. How I am going to fit learning to read German into my schedule, I do not know.
*Note: The Ukrainian is a relatively recent development, motivated by what I think could be future research interests.