Geschichte - The "past" usage of a word, which may be different from the present one.

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29
votes
2answers
559 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
3answers
615 views

“Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod”: is German really loosing Genitiv? (Evolutionary viewpoint)

"Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod" is an interesting German phrase which originates this question. I'm interested in knowing how true is it/will it be. Has German always had four cases? Or were ...
9
votes
2answers
274 views

Warum erhalten Zahlwörter manchmal das Suffix “-e”?

Es gibt seltene Varianten, in denen Zahlwörter ein Suffix "-e" erhalten: Sie streckten alle viere von sich. Beim Kegeln fielen alle neune. "Ach, du grüne Neune!" "Wir treffen uns um Zwölfe." ...
15
votes
3answers
921 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
989 views

“Muss” vs. “muß” and “dass” vs. “daß” frequency changes in the XIX Century and in 1945. What do these curves mean?

As displayed in this answer by nixda one can nicely compare how often do certain words appear in "lots of books", in lots of languages. When reading the answer it's plausible to want to do some cross ...
10
votes
3answers
326 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
362 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
162 views

Präteritum of “sein” in Southern dialects

As in Southern dialects the Präteritum or Mitvergangenheit is often dropped in favor of the perfect tense, I was wondering about some things regarding the "i wår" (apparently the Präteritum of "sein") ...
16
votes
2answers
543 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? ...
13
votes
1answer
756 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!
11
votes
1answer
189 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
151 views

Can anyone explain this strange feature in the ratio in usage gern and gerne in late 1940s?

I was looking at some google N-grams and noticed that the ratio between usage for gern and gerne has a strange bump in the late 1940s. In particular, gerne gained in usage but then returned to the ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
241 views

Warum “wurde” und nicht “ward”?

Heutzutage ist der Präteritumstamm von werden wurde. Früher war es ward. Mir scheint, dass ward die eigentlich regelmäßge Ablautfolge ist (vgl. helfen, werfen). Und doch ward es nicht mehr gesehen. ...
6
votes
2answers
148 views

When did “zu Gunsten”, “zu Liebe” etc. become “zugunsten”, “zuliebe”? (In case they did)

In this question we learned that one origin of new prepositions are adverbs or fixed prepositional phrases. These prepositions go initially with genitive (and then perhaps mutate into dative). When ...
4
votes
2answers
220 views

Warum Perfekt anstelle von Präteritum und seit wann?

Seit welcher Zeit und warum wird im ge­spro­chenen Deutsch lieber Per­fekt anstatt Präteritum benutzt, z.B. lieber Ich habe gesehen als Ich sah? Warum hat sich die kompliziertere Form eingebürgert?