English with Donald Duck

Even though comics are for entertainment, they can also help you expand your foreign language skills. For example, if your native language is German, you can brush up your English with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.

Between 2009 and 2015, ten 250-page paperback English editions called "Stories from Duckburg" were published in the German-speaking world.

While Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy remained the same, other beloved characters suddenly had different names.

Micky Maus - Mickey Mouse

Gustav Gans - Gladstone Gander

Tick, Trick, Track - Huey, Dewey, Louie

Dagobert Duck - Scrooge McDuck

Daniel Duesentrieb - Gyro Gearloose

Aiming at young German-speaking kids learning English as a second language, the original English stories were reedited to make the language according to the publisher "clear and simple." A dictionary was also included to look up unfamiliar words.

Yet, the publisher's concept apparently didn't pay off because the series didn't go beyond 2015. To me, the reedited language lacked the charm and wit of the original English texts.

I found the stories rather boring, and they didn't inspire my American husband to learn more about Duckburg. I also found myself using the dictionary quite often to figure out the meaning of goon, gullible, jalopy, pittance, scalawag, and skinflint.

When you need a dictionary that often, reading isn't fun anymore.

In a French class at Lycoming, we once read a comic book about a 10-year-old girl growing up in today's world. Although we occasionally had to look up words, Esther's Notebooks* by French comic artist Riad Sattouf was much easier to understand than the reedited "Stories from Duckburg" - despite my French being much weaker than my English.

I bet if the language spoken in Duckburg had not been manipulated, my husband would have finally become a Duckburg fan as well.

*Esther's Notebooks is actually a comic book series. If you speak French, I highly recommend checking it out right away. In March, the first book will also become available in English: https://http://www.pushkinpress.com/product/esthers-notebooks-1/

Dr. Daniela Ribitsch originally comes from Graz, Austria. She has lived in the United States since 2009 and teaches German at Lycoming College in Williamsport. She can be reached at ribitsch@lycoming.edu.