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I got a bunch of questions concerning these words:

  • What's the name of words such as "Fahrerei", "Kocherei", "Putzerei", etc
  • From which words can they be formed of?
    • Only verbs?
    • All verbs?
  • Are terms like "Sauerei" somehow linked to them?
  • Is their connotation always negative?
  • Do they have any other properties which are worth to mention?
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Some information about syntax: canoo.net/services/WordformationRules/Derivation/To-N/Suffixe/… Nothing on semantics, though. –  AndreKR Feb 26 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This type of word formation with the ending -erei derived from verbs can have a lot of meanings.

  1. First they denote an activity as in schreien Schreierei.

  2. Then they can mean the place where such an activity is done as a trade as in backen and Bäckerei. And by extension they can mean the shop where the products of that trade are sold.

  3. These words when used for activity can have a pejorative note as in: Hör auf mit deiner blöden Singerei.

  4. There are some similar formations, not derived from verbs such as Sauerei or Schweinerei, which are purely negative and express indignation.

There is a general term for all derivations from verbs "Deverbalia", but I don't know a special term for the words in -erei.

In Italian these words end in -ia as in pizzeria. In English such words end in -ery/-ry as in bakery. But these formations are not "open", i.e. you can't derive such words from any verb as in German. But I found such formations as "playoutry", which I found at a playing saloon. I think it is American English.

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@AndreKRs Link explains most of your question.

This will work with all verbs (but not only verbs, some examples are in the link), but from my experience, is mostly used when you do something from time to time in an unprofessional manner. So you can't really use it with words like sehen or hören, because these are not activities that can be done "well" or "badly". The sentence Seine Diebereien werden ihn noch ins Gefängnis bringen is not something you'd say about a professional thief, it would rather make you think of a teenager who steals from time to time but lacks professionalism. (Also, this is an example where a noun is treated this way, there is no verb dieben).

So the connotation is almost always "not well done" which would make it negative.

Often, they are prefixed with "Herum". I'd always prefer Seine Herumputzerei hat den meisten Dreck übrig gelassen to Seine Putzerei ....

There are some words, like Wäscherei, which are used for a place where something is done professionally (a Wäscherei being a shop where you can get your clothes cleaned; although this word seems a little antiquated and has gotten replaced by Reinigung). In this case, Wäscherei has no negative connotation, but i might still say something like Die (Gesichts-)wäscherei meines dreijährigen Kinds hat alles nur schlimmer gemacht. So depending on context, the same word may have different meanings.

Sauen, derived from Sau (female pig), is a south german/bavarian/austrian verb which means "make something dirty". I don't know if the verb got in dis-use in northern germany, or if Sauerei made it to north germany but Sauen did not, but i'd assume there is the link (i'm not an expert though).

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There are more connotations besides "unprofessional work", but they are also somewhat negative, for instance "tedious, unpleasant, and/or futile work" (e.g. "Lauferei") or "socially unacceptable behavior" (e.g. "Rauferei", "Trinkerei"). –  Uwe Feb 27 at 1:43

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