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Sprachgefühl. A word introduced to me by author Kory Stamper, in her book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. Sounds like the most exciting book ever, doesn’t it? A friend gave this book to me for my sixteenth birthday. My sweet sixteen, filled with dozens of people giving it their all on the dance floor, ended in me cracking open a book about dictionaries on my bed. I was a self-described “language nerd” since the beginning of that year. When I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page of “linguistics”, I discovered my Sprachgefühl: an intuitive feeling for the natural idiom of a language.

My late father was my best friend for sixteen years, and the biggest influence in my passion for language. My dad would read to me every night. I wouldn’t go to sleep without a story. Sometimes that story took quite awhile, as I’d stop him every time I heard a word I didn’t recognize. I would make him show me the word, so I could see how it was spelled. Hours of studying for spelling tests, reading all sorts of stories and writing amateur poetry, my love for language grew. I’d also pester him constantly to help me study for upcoming German tests, even though he couldn’t speak a word, he was happy to listen to me babble in broken tongue....

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