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

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28
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7answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
522 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
374 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
374 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
870 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
522 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? ...
15
votes
1answer
461 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 ...
14
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, ...
14
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3answers
591 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
810 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 ...
13
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1answer
713 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
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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 ...
11
votes
3answers
855 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
252 views

Why is »ß« substituted with »ss« rather than »sz«?

The letter ß is called Eszett, literally meaning s z. However, when the letter is not available (or when a word is in all caps), ß is almost always substituted by the digraph ss rather than sz (e.g. ...
11
votes
1answer
185 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
190 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, ...
10
votes
3answers
318 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
474 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
331 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
265 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." ...
8
votes
2answers
251 views

Who still uses Fraktur?

I am a speaker of German as well as a math student and enthusiast. As one might expect, scripts and notation are very important in math, and much of the notation developed in the German-speaking ...
8
votes
2answers
257 views

Woher stammt der “Weihnachtsmann”?

Pünktlich zum Fest kommen meine Kinder aus der Schule und berichten, man habe ihnen im Religionsunterricht beigebracht, dass es den Weihnachtsmann gar nicht gäbe, sondern dass dieser von Coca Cola ...
8
votes
2answers
228 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" ...
8
votes
1answer
285 views

Warum die Buchstabenkombinationen “sch” und “ch”

Woher kommen die Buchstabenkombinationen "sch" und "ch"? Die Herkunft der Buchstabenkombination "ch" für den stimmlosen velaren Frikativ oder den stimmlosen palatalen Frikativ ist noch ...
8
votes
1answer
145 views

Wie kam das 'e' in den “Schmied”?

Schon länger frage ich mich, wie es zur Dehnung des "i"-Vokals und zur Bildung eines "-ie-" in der Berufsbezeichnung "Schmied" kam. Im Duden, aber auch in anderen Wörterbüchern ist die Herkunft aus ...
7
votes
3answers
349 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
220 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Welche Bedeutung hat “Borussia” im Namen von Sportvereinen?

Eine ganze Reihe von deutschen Sportvereinen trägt die Bezeichnung "Borussia" (lateinisch für Preussen) in ihrem Vereinsnamen. Für Borussia Dortmund lese ich bei Wikipedia zur Namensgebung: ...
7
votes
3answers
180 views

Wie vergleichbar sind die Widerstände gegen die Rechtschreibreformen 1876 und 1901 mit denen von 1996?

Gab es 1876 und 1901 auch derartige Widerstände wie gegen die Rechtschreibreform von 1996 und ihre Folgereformen? Was wurde damals anders oder evtl. besser gemacht?
6
votes
2answers
145 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
325 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
396 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
280 views

Reduplikation in der deutschen Sprache

Gemäss Wikipedia gibt es im deutschen beinahe keine Reduplikationen. Bei uns in der Schweiz sind diese aber in der gesprochenen Sprache sehr weit verbreitet. Beispiele dafür gibt es auch in ...
6
votes
1answer
114 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.
5
votes
2answers
651 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
148 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
154 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") ...
5
votes
1answer
269 views

Did the gender of “Müll” change with its meaning?

Still in the 19. Century for "Müll" we have both, a neuter and a masculine gender whereas its gender today is masculine. Interestingly it also seems to have had a different meaning than today (trash, ...
5
votes
1answer
221 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
92 views

passage from C to K

I happened to notice in Köpenick that the name of the city was spelt Cöpenick in an old street sign. Was there a general passage from C to K at some time in the history of the german language ?
5
votes
1answer
193 views

Wie entstand aus “Sicht” die “Zuversicht”?

Schon länger frage ich mich, wie man die Etymologie von "Zuversicht" erkärt. Im Duden wird knapp aufgeführt mittelhochdeutsch zuoversiht, althochdeutsch zuofirsiht Duden und auch das ...
4
votes
3answers
380 views

Does “paar” still mean “two items”? Words that have lost their original meaning

–Ich hätte gerne ein Paar Brötchen –Wie viele? That was (modulo trivialities) a conversation that surprised me. Of course –assuming the grammatical correctness of the sentences–, the baker ...
4
votes
2answers
205 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?
4
votes
2answers
384 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
179 views

Sometimes “s” is read like English “z”. Why?

I have seen that many times, a German word is spelled with an "s", but it is read like an English "z". Moreover, every time this happens, the Dutch cognate word is spelled with a "z". (But not the ...
4
votes
1answer
362 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
298 views

How can I find out what is written on an image of the Spiezer chronicle?

The following is a drawing of the Spiezer chronicle from the 15th Century showing John Hoss being burnt alive, I want to include it in my research about Protestantism. While preparing a ...
3
votes
3answers
137 views

German in Bach's Cantatas

My German is very rudimentary (A1) and I have no regular exposure to the language except what I get listening to Bach. Recently, I have been very interested in Bach's cantatas. It uses text from the ...
3
votes
2answers
197 views

Welche Schriftsteller oder Dichter waren für die Entwicklung der deutschen Sprache ausschlaggebend?

In jeder Sprache gab es Schriftsteller und Dichter, die für zeitgenössische Sprache stehen und einen erheblichen Einfluss in der Entwicklung der Sprache haben. So war es Chaucer für die englische und ...