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I've read this in a reply to a mail:

Danke der Nachfrage!

Why is der there and why is not für die Nachfrage instead? And is it genitive or dative? (My only guess is that we are omitting a preposition, but I've never seen that in German).

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In an answer to a related question, I already addressed your question. –  Em1 May 11 at 16:02
    
@Em1 I think it would be a shame to close as duplicate with so little in common in the original question. You want to write an answer? –  Vogel612 May 11 at 17:35
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Funny enough, right now you've got two correct answers and two wrong answers but only four people considered the question an upvote worth. :) –  Em1 May 12 at 6:43
    
Is by any chance the writer located not too far from the French border? –  Walter Tross May 12 at 8:00
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If it is dative (or today perceied as dative) it must be interpreted as pars per toto, i.e. the Nachfrage represents the person posing the Nachfrage. Personally, I feel this rather to be a genitive, but have nothing to support this, so leave it at thi comment. –  Hagen von Eitzen May 13 at 21:55

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Wie schon anderswo erklärt, kann „danken“ ein Dativ- und ein Akkusativobjekt haben, um auszudrücken, wem und wofür gedankt wird. Dort wo wir heute den Akkusativ benutzen, wurde laut Grimm (Punkt 3) im Mittelhochdeutschen und noch darüber hinaus bis ins 16. Jahrhundert der Genitiv verwandt. Dies scheint sich in der Wendung „Danke der Nachfrage“ erhalten zu haben.

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I apologize for answering in German, I didn't notice. –  Carsten Schultz May 12 at 13:52
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This is etymologically incorrect, and the reference you give says no such thing. If you actually read Grimm, you'll find that in older German, the person who was owed thanks was preferentially expressed in the Dative, as is done today. The event or entity over which thanks were owed was expressed in the Genitive (as in OP's example), and for which nowadays a prepositional phrase is preferentially employed. The Grimms report that a recent and rare development in New High German times was coding the entity over which thanks was owed beginning to allow the accusative. –  jona May 13 at 11:14
    
@jona, why do you say "the reference you give says no such thing"? What you correctly summarize does not really contradict chat Carsten wrote, unless you are referring to some particular aspect which I missed. –  Walter Tross May 13 at 12:17
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@jona, you are right that a prepositional phrase is preferred over an accusative object. In which way does this invalidate the argument? –  Carsten Schultz May 13 at 12:20
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Carten wrote "wo wir heute den Akkusativ benutzen, wurde laut Grimm (Punkt 3) im Mittelhochdeutschen und noch darüber hinaus bis ins 16. Jahrhundert der Genitiv verwandt.". Grimm: "bei dieser bedeutung von danken erlauben sich einige seit dem 17ten jahrh. den acc." And that is the only mention of accusative case in the entry to "danken" linked to by Carsten. –  jona May 13 at 12:37

It is genitive, a verbal phrase and a ellipsis. The full sentence (with subject) is

Ich danke der Nachfrage

ich Subject
danke Prädikat
der Nachfrage Genitivobjekt

And here is the Word "danke" asking for the genitive. This is oldstyle grammar, and "Danke der Nachfrage" ist the only case where genitive comes after "danke".

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It's not a genitive, it's a dative: cf. duden.de/rechtschreibung/danken –  Livius May 11 at 20:39
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@Livius The Duden page you linked to doesn't give any hint on whether it's genitive or dative. –  Em1 May 12 at 6:39
    
Hast Du einen Beleg dafür, dass das eine ältere Konstruktion ist? –  Carsten Schultz May 12 at 6:59
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Maybe you meant ellipsis instead of hyperbole? –  Carsten Schultz May 12 at 7:34
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@CarstenSchultz You are right, it is an ellipsis. I corrected it. –  Hubert Schölnast May 14 at 15:39

As already pointed out by others, it is a Genitivobjekt. Even native speakers have a hard time with it, because genitive objects are very rare, and mostly used in the gehobene Sprache.

A native speaker would check by replacing the feminine word with a masculine one:

Danke des Briefes

which is correct (although it's perceived as wrong by many native speakers nowadays, see below)

You could also say:

Ich danke Ihnen der Nachfrage

which of course cannot have two dative objects, thus confirming that der Nachfrage is genitive.

Other languages have the same construct. E.g., thank you for the flowers is merci des fleurs in French and grazie dei fiori in Italian.


EDIT

It looks like I perceive the above German sentences as correct more than the average German speaker. This may be due to the fact that I'm also a native Italian speaker.

It also looks like the genitive object with danken ceased to be common a few centuries ago, and barely survived, hiding in phrases like the one that rightly puzzled you (see the answer by Carsten Schultz). Here is an example of its usage in the old times (end of the 15th century).


EDIT 2

The most complete equivalent sentence would be:

Ich danke Ihnen wegen der Nachfrage

which sheds some light, I think, on the origin of the genitive.


EDIT 3

It looks like many Germans really perceive Danke der Nachfrage as meaning Thanks to the enquiry, as if, in this case, it were correct to replace a human recipient with the inanimate enquiry. Of course, for these people my first two examples are incorrect. Upvotes and downvotes in this forum are not a good measure for average German, unfortunately, and I wouldn't know how to quantify the different grammatical feelings about this phrase.


EDIT 4 (and hopefully last)

It would be unfair and confusing to rewrite my answer, but...

My test sentence for native German speakers should have been:

Danke der Nachfragen

Judging by votes and commentaries, people here (who on average are more competent than the average German speaker), consider it more correct than

Danke den Nachfragen

which might or might not be considered the correct form by the majority of speakers if they had to choose, but we have no way of finding out. (Anyone here can arrange their little poll, though!)

And to answer your first question: Danke für die Nachfrage would certainly be preferred today, but business letter language evolves definitely more slowly than spoken language, to the point that, as in this case, people sometimes write things they don't really know the meaning of...

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That would be convincing if the two sentences felt right. Can you give examples in literature? –  Carsten Schultz May 12 at 6:55
    
@CarstenSchultz: not easy, but here is one and here another –  Walter Tross May 12 at 7:11
    
The first example is good, the second is accusative. –  Carsten Schultz May 12 at 7:14
    
@CarstenSchultz: Ooops, you are almost right, in my understanding the second is nominative. I have been overhasty. –  Walter Tross May 12 at 7:18

I perceive it to be Dative. Also, I think the "danke" is not thought of as a verb but as the plain thanks (which of course comes from the verb but it doesn't feel like a verb anymore)

Danke.

The "Nachfrage" is what the "thanks" is directed to... of course it is directed to the listener but "Nachfrage" is the cause, the trigger. I would say a proper long version (based on grammatical feel) is:

Das "Danke" gilt der Nachfrage.

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Emanuel's last sentence hits the nail on the head pretty much in my opinion. –  user3135691 May 11 at 22:36
    
So you would say that the sentence "ich danke den Käufern der Nachfrage" (by @Takkat) has two Dativobjekte? –  Walter Tross May 11 at 22:37
    
@WalterTross... I would say that that sentence is not possible... I mean, it probably grammatically correct and it may be that back a few centuries this was Genitive but I doubt anyone would understand that sentence today. I wouldn't. Maybe the origin is Genitive, I justed wanted to say which case I "feel" –  Emanuel May 11 at 22:57
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I would say a proper long version (based on my personal grammatical feel) is: "Danke wegen der Nachfrage" –  Walter Tross May 12 at 10:15
    
@WalterTross... I can imagine that, too. Does the "danke" feel like a shortened "ich danke" to you, though? –  Emanuel May 12 at 10:19

It's a dative not a genitive. This is often the case for arguments that can broadly be described as indirect objects or beneficiaries. (Genitive objects are used to indicate partitive constructions in archaic usage: "Er trank des Wassers" -- "He drank of the water")

As mentioned in another answer, you could make a full sentence:

Ich danke der Nachfrage

which you could conceptualize as "ich gebe der Nachfrage meinen Dank".

As final proof that it's dative:

Ich danke meinem Betreuer und meinen Gutachtern, ...

NOT (I use the asterisk like a linguist to indicate ill-formed):

*Ich danke meines Betreuers und meiner Gutachter.

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Ich danke [den Käufern (dat.)] der Nachfrage (gen.). You can not say "thank you" to a demand. –  Takkat May 11 at 20:49
    
@Takkat I'm not sure about that -- "I thank the high demand for my book for my current financial status." works fine. Now, if you have both objects, then it does seem to be more of the old genitive construction found in "er erinnert sich seiner". –  Livius May 11 at 20:52
    
If you have the purely nominal construction with "Dank der Nachfrage", then that is probably a gentive, but that's related to nominalized German verbs taking their arguments in the genitive -- "Abbau des Genitivs" being my personal favorite, although it is not conversion but rather another type of derived noun. –  Livius May 11 at 20:55
    
I fear you are wrong and @Takkat is right. I'm quite sure that die Nachfrage is not a Dativobjekt but a Genitivobjekt. –  Walter Tross May 11 at 22:48
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There is a clear difference between (ich) "danke der Nachfrage" and "(ich) danke der Frau", the former clearly being genitive. I don't think "Er trank des Wassers" was ever considered correct, by the way. It certainly isn't today. –  Ingmar May 12 at 0:27

Ich danke Dir für die Nachfrage.
Ich danke Dir für deine Nachfrage.
Danke Deiner Nachfrage.
Dank Deiner Nachfrage musste ich gestern Überstunden schieben um die Antwort zu finden.
Dank der Nachfrage von Dir musste ich …

Genitiv. Dank wessen Nachfrage? Dank Deiner Nachfrage. Dank der Nachfrage Von dir.

Danke der Nachfrage - von Dir / Ihnen. Sie hat mich auf eine neue Idee gebracht.

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