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For "the second/third beautiful city, we can write

Die zweitschönste Stadt


Die drittschönste Stadt

What about the 45th most beautiful city?

We can probably write

Die 45. schönste Stadt

but how do we write it in full (or read it)?

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"An extremely ugly city." – jona Aug 10 '14 at 9:14
@jona Not necessarily. – user6191 Aug 10 '14 at 12:12
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I recommend to rephrase the statement in German, but this is difficult if you want to avoid to use the noun „Stadt“ twice:

„Die Stadt ist Nummer 45 auf der Liste der schönsten Städte des Landes.“

„Unter den schönsten Städten des Landes nimmt [Stadtname] den 45. Platz ein.“

„Unter den schönsten Städten des Landes steht [Stadtname] an 45. Stelle.“

„Unter den schönsten Städten des Landes ist [Stadtname] die fünfundvierzigste.“

It may be particular for that specific example, but IMHO, those sentences bear a ironic / sarcastic connotation, since the "45th most beautiful city" is quite far away from the "most beautiful city". It sounds like "the 10th winner" (out of eleven competitors...). This applies all the more to a "literal translation":

„[Stadtname] ist die fünfundvierzigstschönste Stadt im Lande“

Since „fünfundvierzigstschönste“ is very uncommon in German, it draws the attention even more to the mediocre rank (IMHO).

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Die fünfundvierzigste aller/der schönsten Städte. – user6191 Aug 10 '14 at 12:15
@Carlster: "aller schönsten Städte" ist meiner Meinung nach nicht ideal. Das Konzept "schönste Stadt" wird sinnlos, wenn alle Städte "schönste Stadt" sind, sogar die "letztschönste". Aber das ist ein semantisches Problem, kein grammatikalisches. – tohuwawohu Aug 11 '14 at 13:08
Verschwindet dieses Problem nicht durch die Verwendung von "fünfundvierzigste"? Ich glaube nicht, dass jemand vorhat, in der "letztschönsten" Stadt Urlaub zu machen. – user6191 Aug 11 '14 at 15:51
Ich sehe da schon ein Problem: die Menge "aller schönsten Städte" existiert m.E. einfach nicht. Dann kann man auch keine Reihenfolge unter den Elementen herstellen. Meine Formulierungen versuchen, die Absolutheit "aller ... Städte" zu vermeiden. Die Menge "der schönsten Städte" lässt den Umfang offen. Aber ich fürchte, wir haben hier schon die Ebene der Haarspalterei erreicht. – tohuwawohu Aug 11 '14 at 16:06

I would say / write it like this:

Die fünfundvierzigstschönste Stadt.

I also have my doubts about the correctness, since anything above 12 is uncommon.

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It's correct, although nobody would write it ;) – Em1 Aug 9 '14 at 7:08
@peasant Why 12 and not, say, 10 or 13? Since another poster has mentioned 12, there must be some kind of rule? – karoshi Aug 11 '14 at 9:57
@karoshi Because it's usual to spell numbers up to 12 in full in German and also because 10, 11 and 12 are much easier to say / spell, since they contain only one syllable. – Peasant Aug 11 '14 at 10:34

Never thought about it (native German speaker) :)

You would probably try to avoid doing this, because there is no elegant way to say "45th most whatever". Up to "zwölft (12) schönste Stadt" it works very well, but not beyond. If you have doubt: Please give me a practical example when you would need such a phrase.

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So is it just not elegant, or not even possible/allowed in German? – user6191 Aug 9 '14 at 3:41
An example: "My city is ranked as the 45th most beautiful city in America." – boaten Aug 9 '14 at 7:02
I think criticism of the translate phrase belongs into comments and not answers. I do know that you don't have the privilege to comment yet, but I am hesitant to flag because everything else you write is correct. Thus my downvote. – Vogel612 Aug 9 '14 at 9:41
tohuwawohu and Ingmar could express it better. If a native speaker would say „[Stadtname] ist die fünfundvierzigstschönste Stadt im Lande“ it would not be considered incorrect but inelegant/ironic. Their answer „[Stadtname] ist unter den 45 schönsten Städten“ is imo the best translation for the original question- – Christian Aug 9 '14 at 9:58
@Christian That's not an equivalent statement. – user6191 Aug 10 '14 at 12:17

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