Concentrators in languages find certain inevitable faults which by now appear to be almost stock in trade. Due to its innate stability and uniformity a language is very apt to suffer from comparison with such dynamic subjects as history, government, or economics. The German department at Harvard has in the past been repeatedly indicted for wallowing in a morass of pedantry, and it is to be hoped that current reforms will do much to relieve this condition.
Unmitigated translation is a heavy enough dish at anybody's table, but German has something indescribably "schwer" in its very nature that makes such a diet untenable. The reformation of the elementary courses, especially the establishment of German 1, the long-awaited survey course in literature, seems to be just what the doctor ordered for those who want cultural knowledge along with their language.
As cold as the Brandenburger Tor, has been, the label frankly attached to many members of the department. Men steeped in learning and recognized as authorities in their field may often, through no tangible fault of their own, leave a group of students completely unmoved. Here in its bluntest form is Harvard's increasingly troublesome dilemma: scholarship and teaching, may they somehow get together! The tutors as well as the instructors have been hit on this score, and some steps must be taken by the German department to recognize this ever more vital aspect of instruction.
For complicated reasons the tide of modern delectation is flowing away from subjects like German, and with the revision of its more fundamental courses, the department is showing its sensitivity to public demand. The other foot must be planted forward with equal firmness, and the staff, too often cold and uninspiring, be made more responsive to the tone of the present.