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In the below excerpt from the taz.de article "Kein Kapitalismus, nur Götter", it seems that economists are compared to a discipline. Even though it's quite clear what the point of the sentence highlighted in bold is, I wonder whether such a comparison is grammatically correct?

Leider sitzen die Wirtschaftswissenschaftler nicht isoliert in einem Elfenbeinturm, wo sie keinen Schaden anrichten können. Im Gegenteil, sie sind so mächtig wie keine andere Disziplin.

Would rendering the sentence in the following manner be better, when apples are compared to apples (i.e. economists to experts in other fields):

Im Gegenteil, sie sind so mächtig wie Fachleute keiner anderen Disziplin.

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    No, your second sentence is just wrong. The whole sentence, translated, simply reads "On the contrary they (= economic scientists) are more powerful than any other (field of science)." There's nothing wrong with that sentence grammatically. – Ingmar Sep 10 '16 at 20:26
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    But that's exactly my point: economic scientists are compared to a field of science. As I understand it, economists should be compared to economists and fields of science should be compared to fields of science. To me, the sentence above looks as wrong as the following one: Economists are more knowledgeable than physics. But it should be "than physicists". – Eugene Str. Sep 10 '16 at 20:36
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    If a change is applied to the sentence, it should be: "... wie Fachleute keiner anderen Disziplin." – O. R. Mapper Sep 10 '16 at 21:35
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    Oder: "Die Ökonomie ist so mächtig, wie keine andere Disziplin." Man kann aber leicht übersehen, dass hier Äpfel mit Birnbäumen vergliichen werden. – user unknown Sep 11 '16 at 0:49
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This is not a grammatical problem. Grammar puts no restriction on what can be compared (as long as they are nouns).

Im Gegenteil, sie sind so mächtig wie kein anderes Auto.

would also be grammatically correct, although completely nonsensical.


Disziplin can stand for the totality of the scientists belonging to the Disziplin. So the sentence does not sound wrong to my ears. But its meaning differs slighly from your suggested correction

Im Gegenteil, sie sind so mächtig wie die Fachleute keiner anderen Disziplin.

To say that the Disziplin itself is mächtig suggests some form of cooperation among its members in order to wield power as a group. Your version only states that the members are powerful (but they could for example be divided on many issues).

If the author meant the latter, she would indeed have sacrificed some precision for brevity, but my guess is she meant it as she wrote it.

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  • You can just fix it the other way around, replacing "sie sind" with "die Ökonomie ist". – hkBst Sep 11 '16 at 7:17
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[Sorry, I can't comment yet] Ingmar is right. Semantic separation is often overrated. Speakers of German (and English as well) are fine with a lot of (assumed) mismatches. There may be stylistic considerations but 'group of people' vs 'their field of study' is no big clash, I’m pretty sure.

I’m not really sure how to formulate a grammatical rule for that which is needed anywhere. Disciplines are abstract but also often seen as human like their contributors.

Sorry, I’m not sure what the second example tries: 'kein' is usually singular, same goes for academic disciplines. Wirtschaftswissenschaft(en) allows both.

– Ah, I see. "keine Wissenschaftler anderer Disziplinen" – that can't be understood w/o "Wissenschaftler" b/c "Wirtschaftswissenschaftler" is a compound. That's a rather hard constraint.

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