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In a German text I had written, one of its sentences has been corrected as follows :

Zum Beispiel schreibe ich Wörter, bei deren Aussprache ich mir nicht sicher bin, zwischen eckigen Klammern.

In my original sentence, I had written :

Zum Beispiel schreibe ich Wörter, deren Aussprache ich mir nicht sicher bin, zwischen eckigen Klammern.

As far as I know, the correct expression is "sich etwas[Gen.] sicher sein". I don't understand the meaning of "bei" in this sentence and why it is necessary.

Could anyone please explain to me why it's "bei deren" and not just "deren" ?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Well, there is a difference in meaning which may become more obvious when we shorten these sentences to:

Ich bin mir bei der Aussprache Dat. sicher.

This is exactly what we want to say: "I am confident on pronouncing".

Ich bin mir der Aussprache Gen. sicher.

This may be taken as identical to the above but there is a different meaning when using genitive case: "I am sure of a pronunciation." In your examples above we make clear that we use the dative case by introducing the preposition "bei".

This can also be seen in the following examples:

  • Er ist sich ihrer Liebe sicher. - He is sure she will love him.
    Er ist sich bei ihrer Liebe sicher. - He is sure her love is true.
  • Sie fühlt sich ihres Einkommens sicher. - She feels her income is safe.
    Sie fühlt sich bei ihrem Einkommen sicher. - She feels safe with her income.
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In correct rule compliant German it should be :

..., derer Ausprache...

However, I doubt that anyone would say that. Sich sicher sein also exists with bei and über ... at least Google find it, and while the bei-version originally wasn't "designed" for this very situation it does avoid the stilted Genitive and can, in my opinion, be considered high German, too.

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Are you sure that derer is correct? Wortgebrauch und Verwechslungen: deren oder derer? –  AlexE Nov 19 '12 at 7:46
    
@AlexE In OP's example both deren and derer is grammatically correct. –  Em1 Nov 19 '12 at 12:11
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