For questions on the history of grammar, orthography, pronunciation and similar – with the main exception of word and phrase meanings, for which the etymology tag should be used.

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9
votes
2answers
418 views

Did “zwo” exist before invention of radio?

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 ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the second verse of the German national anthem offensive? Why is it not used?

My understanding is that today's national anthem, "Einigkeit, und Recht, und Freiheit..." was the third verse of the original and that we're not supposed to sing the original first verse, ...
7
votes
1answer
318 views

Seit wann ist ein “Wurm” nur noch ein Wurm und kein anderes Insekt?

Heutzutage versteht man unter einem Wurm ein bein- und wirbelloses Kriechtier wie auf folgendem Bild: Bild eines Regenwurms Wikimedia Das war aber möglicherweise nicht immer so. So nennt man im ...
4
votes
2answers
495 views

What, exactly, is meant by “Anschluss” in politics?

In its "usual" usage in politics, it refers to the (forced) union of Germany and Austria in 1938. And a literal translation of the word might be "closing." Can the term be used to refer to a "merger ...
5
votes
2answers
732 views

Did “Frohes Schaffen!” originate from Nazi propaganda?

At work I often hear the greeting: "Frohes Schaffen!" Some time ago I was told that I should not use "Frohes Schaffen" as it is supposed to come from Nazi propaganda. Ever since then I feel ...
20
votes
2answers
692 views

Why are the German guillemets inverted?

I've been wondering for some time, Why do Germans use inverted guillemets (»…«) in contrast with the original French use (« … »)? When did such usage begin? (They are originally French, right? ...
10
votes
3answers
365 views

What caused “ss” to gain popularity over “ß” in the 19th century?

From Google Books' Ngram Viewer: Notice that the "hasst" form gained popularity towards the end of the 19th century, only to drop again in favor of "haßt" later on. I noticed the same pattern on ...
6
votes
1answer
134 views

Dropped 'H' in 1901 Orthography Conference

In 1901, was the letter 'H' dropped in some words where not needed? I think "thun" was a example. What other words were affected? Was "Tür" (door) one of them? Thanks.
6
votes
1answer
571 views

Warum sächselt Erich Honecker, obwohl er aus dem Saarland kommt?

In all the speeches and interviews I know, Erich Honecker is speaking with what seems to me a notably east German accent (Apologies if "Sächseln" isn't entirely correct. I don't know much about east ...
6
votes
1answer
414 views

Why does “fliegen” not always happen in the air?

In German "fliegen" is quite often used in a context where it has nothing to do with flying like a bird or with a flight by an airplane. Kevin ist von der Schule geflogen. Morgen machen wir ...
11
votes
1answer
219 views

Why is indirect speech marked by modus instead of tempus in German?

If marked, most (according to Wikipedia) european languages use tempus instead of modus for indirect speech. Actually i think this is more intuitive too, as something was said by another person. Also, ...
3
votes
1answer
687 views

Word list/book for political/historical terms/phrases one should avoid?

Due to German history (Nazi Germany, Stasi) there are a lot of terms and phrases that can cause a very negative connotation. A simple invented example would be Der totale Sommer-Ausverkauf ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

Did German borrow any words from Old Prussian?

Considering the huge influence Prussia had for a time over Germany, did many words from the Old Prussian language get borrowed into German? (Sorry I didn't originally include the word "Old" as I ...
19
votes
2answers
446 views

Is/Was there a Basic German?

There is a whole Wikipedia written in Basic English. This leads to the question if something similar exists for German. Maybe a type of controlled language for teaching aboriginals a simplified German ...
5
votes
1answer
406 views

Where does/did word-formation in German language happen?

I am interested in a comprehensible overview, summarization where most of word-formation in German language actually happen. How are new words finally accepted to end in an official dictionary like ...
1
vote
2answers
537 views

English analog to “Stelzbock” or why so few sexual cusses for men?

german female version of Stelzbock someone told me would be Flittchen - Hussy (eng). Is there an appropriate translation? Imo, Macho and Gigolo doesn't match , to less animal-like and more a ...
37
votes
7answers
3k views

Does the German language have a Shakespeare?

Most English speakers cannot read for very long before stumbling onto the words of Shakespeare, one of the language's greatest playwrights, who left an indelible mark on it. A great many of his ...
8
votes
2answers
262 views

Wo kommt “meinen” in der Bedeutung von “lieben” vor?

Im Lied "Die Freiheit, die ich meine", das hauptsächlich in Burschenschaften gesungen wird, und das auch als Titel des Buches von Jörg Haider gedient hat, kommt das Wort "meinen" im Sinne von "lieben" ...
11
votes
1answer
216 views

Wann ging der häufige Gebrauch des »th« verloren?

In alten deutschen Texten liest man häufig Wörter mit th geschrieben, die heutzutage ohne ein Solches geschrieben werden. Beispiele sind Theil, Thor. Wann wurden diese Schreibungen abgeschafft? Nach ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Are German words starting with the letter 'p' really of foreign origin?

In a book I’m reading these days, the author mentions the various names of the plough in a few Indo-European languages. When he comes to cite the German one (Pflug) he casually adds the far-reaching ...
8
votes
3answers
504 views

Do the noun 'Reich' and the adjective 'reich' have a common origin?

The adjective rich in present-day English used to be spelled rice in Old English and its meaning was then actually broader than it is today. For instance the adjective rice could mean "wealthy" as it ...
14
votes
1answer
975 views

Origin of Separable Verbs

In what moment in the development of the German language were separable verbs introduced? Also, is there a linguistic reason behind their introduction? Thanks!
10
votes
2answers
740 views

Meaning of Mann as a tribe rather than a male individual

Everybody understands the substantive Mann as designating a male human individual. Some people might also be aware of the kinship between Mann and the verb to command, which crops up for instance in ...
23
votes
6answers
3k views

Which letters does the German alphabet consist of?

I mean the “official” or “traditional” alphabet, such as the one taught in schools to children. Is the ordering the same as English? Does it include C, which I notice never seems to show up in ...
19
votes
1answer
501 views

Wann und warum ging das Beugen von Namen verloren?

Beim Lesen von Literatur zu Goethe und Schiller fiel mir auf, dass deren Namen in manchen Texten mitgebeugt wurden, so wie wir das heute noch mit den Objekten machen. Der Lautwandlungsprozess zum ...
6
votes
3answers
816 views

Übungen zum Lesen der Kurrentschrift

Gibt es eine Webseite mit Übungen, um Kurrentschrift zu lesen? Sofort alte Briefe in exzentrischer Handschrift zu lesen, ist etwas schwierig, sodass es nett wäre, sich etwas einzuüben.
19
votes
6answers
959 views

Wird Deutsch auch außerhalb von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz gesprochen?

Wird Deutsch auch außerhalb von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz gesprochen? Wobei ich natürlich nicht zwei Deutsche im Urlaub meine, sondern eine deutliche Verbreitung.
1
vote
1answer
174 views

Warum werden manche Worte wie z.B. blümerant nicht oder kaum noch genutzt? [closed]

Warum werden manche Worte wie z.B. blümerant nicht oder kaum noch genutzt? Mir ist klar, dass durch Sprachwandel neue Wörter hinzukommen, aber warum verschwinden manche Wörter?
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Neuter gender for nouns referring to children

In German we say der Mann/die Frau, but then we say das Kind/das Mädchen, so I got two questions: Are there particular historic and/or etymological reasons for this? "Das Mädchen" refers to a ...
39
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the rules about the capitalization of the first letter of each noun?

To my knowledge, German is the only language which capitalize the first letter of each of its nouns. Why is there such a rule? Meines Wissens ist Deutsch die einzige Sprache, in der der erste ...
15
votes
1answer
600 views

Does Swabian have English influences?

Many variations of the swabian dialect contain words and pronunciations that to me always subtly sounded like influenced by modern english. One of the more prominent examples is the pronunciation of ...