German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Was "zwo" often or ever used before radio, or was it developed as a result of radio? Or has it just always been used around crowds and loud noises? And have other numbers ever had similar morphological changes?

share|improve this question
up vote 14 down vote accepted

It has nothing to do with radio.

Zwo is the female version (from Middle and Old High German zwō, zwā) for the numeral Zwei:

Zwo Frauen

whereas zween is the male version (from Middle and Old High German zwēne)

zween Männer

Nowadays it isn't any longer in this use. At least zween is marked as archaic.

Zwo is used colloquial and when you want to differentiate acoustically from Drei.

Eins, Zwo, Drei

instead of

Eins, Zwei, Drei

share|improve this answer
Bzgl. anderen Zahlen: Eens, Zwee, Dree, ... aber ich glaub das ist südländischer Dialekt. Vllt kann dazu jmd anderes was sagen? – Em1 Jan 30 '12 at 8:03
Sehr hilfreich und von anderen beliebt! :-) Danke! – Kevin Jan 31 '12 at 2:43

In der zwoten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts hatte zwo zwo Höhepunkte lt. Google ngram, also weit vor der Erfindung des Radios 1923 etwa startete der Rundfunk im dt. Reich lt. Wikipedia :

Google ngram about zwo

In the second half of the 18th century, "zwo" had its all time high, according to google ngram, and this was long before the invention of the radio around 1923 the Rundfunk im dt. Reich started, according to the German Wikipedia.

share|improve this answer
Sehr umfangreiche Auskünfte! Danke! – Kevin Jan 31 '12 at 2:43

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.