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Something you will often find is a phrase like the one given in the title:

original italienisches Eis.

What kind of word is original here though? An adverb? Shouldn't this phrase either read "original-italienisches Eis" or "originales italienisches Eis"?
You never say the latter and never see the former though. Is this a case of a very common "Deppenleerzeichen" or is it me who is the 'Depp'?

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Maybe this explains some of the confusion: In English most adverbs are marked by ‑ly while adjectives are not inflected. If an adverb modifying an adjective cannot be recognised as such (e.g., fast), you would use a hyphen to indicate that the adverb modifies the adjective and not the noun. For example fast-growing group (schnell wachsende Gruppe) vs. fast growing group (schnelle wachsende Gruppe, here the group is fast and growing, but not fast-growing). In German distinction is easy, since adjectives are inflected and thus recognisable as such. – Wrzlprmft May 15 '13 at 8:40
(Which makes this one of the rare cases, in which the Deppenleerzeichen phenomenon is reversed, i.e., a hyphen is used in English, but a blank is used in German.) – Wrzlprmft May 15 '13 at 8:42
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The function of adverbs is to qualify verbs, adverbs or - as in this example - adjectives. Adverbs do not have any inflection.
If original would be an adjective, describing the noun, only then this word had to be adapt to indicate number, case etc.

That said, originales Eis would describe Eis as original which, obviously, is not what this sentence intend to convey.

In this particular phrase, original specifies italienisch to convey that ice cream is genuinely Italian style.

For that reason, it's correct to say original italienenisches Eis.

One thing left, what's about original-italienisches Eis. Here again, as a compound adjective original describe the noun which is not the intended sense.

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