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Can I say "Togo war deutsch bis 1918" ?

Togo war eine der deutschen Kolonien in Afrika von 1884 bis 1918. Togo war deutsch nach dem Untergang Deutschlands in 1918. Nach der Unterzeichnung versailler Vertrag wurde Togo von Deutschland unabhängig u. an Frankreich übergeben.

Could one also write "Togo wurde deutsch bis 1918"? Would it change the meaning of the sentence entirely?

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Your text presently reads: Togo was a German colony from 1884 till 1918. (ok) Togo was German AFTER the downfall of Germany in 1918. (???) After the treaty of Versailles was signed it became DEPENDENT on Germany and was given to France. (??????) So.. is this really what you wanted to say?? – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 10:42
A version that makes more sense to me: Togo war deutsch bis zur Niederlage Deutschlands im Jahre 1918. Nach der Unterzeichnung des Versailler Vertrags wurde Togo von Deutschland unabhängig und an Frankreich übergeben. (Didn't check if that is what really happened) – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 10:55
Hm... I know there's this movie "Der Untergang", but it wasn't the Untergang of Germany, because Germany is still on the map, but rather the Untergang of the Nazi-Regime. – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 11:04
The mental picture for "Untergang" comes from "untergehen" which in it's literal sense means that something sinks under the surface of some body of water. So a ship can "go under", and after it has done so, you can't see it any more on the sea. – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 11:10
@DerPolyglott33, please tell me, where do you get all these half-baked sentences with almost, but not quite, correct sentence structure or grammar? You seem to have an aptitude of finding German sentences that are missing a few bits to be correct, or in most cases are really, really not German as a German would speak. Where do you find these? If it's in a book, why don't you just trash the book?!! – teylyn Jan 11 '14 at 2:44
up vote 3 down vote accepted

About Togo war deutsch bis 1918 vs. Togo wurde deutsch bis 1918:

You can say "Togo war deutsch bis 1918" if you want to say that it somehow belonged to Germany, but it might be considered sloppy and I wouldn't necessarily write it in an essay.

Now "Togo wurde deutsch bis 1918": That just doesn't make any sense. werden means to become, which is something that happens at some specific point in time. The "bis 1918" implies that it was a state that Togo was in for some time. You might say "Togo wurde 1884 deutsch" meaning that it became a colony in that year.

So, yes, it does change the meaning entirely, as might be expected when replacing to be with to become.

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The "wurde deutsch bis" does make sense, you even explain it correctly: If it was a process that took a long time. I agree with the sentence not being what @DerPolyglott33 intended though. – OregonGhost Jan 10 '14 at 10:55
Wurde deutsch is correct german than 'war deutsch' ? – DerPolyglott33 Jan 10 '14 at 10:58
@Oregon I thought for some time and couldn't come up with a sentence "Subj. wurde Adj. bis Zeitpunkt", so I think it is not really idiomatic. Especially here, where "becoming German" is something that probably happens by signing a treaty. But also for other stuff, you would probably rather say: "Er wurde immer verbitterter bis zu seinem Tod" and not "Er wurde verbittert bis zu seinem Tod". The immer marks a continual process in that case. – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 11:00
@DerPolyglott the degree of sloppyness is the same and additionally it doesn't really make much sense here. – fifaltra Jan 10 '14 at 11:02
You're saying "Untergang" doesn't fit in this context? – DerPolyglott33 Jan 10 '14 at 11:03

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