6

I saw today this picture:

Grave stone inscription: 'Die Liebe höret nimmer auf!'

This does not seem to be any verbal form from aufhören. What is this expression?

6

It is actually a form of "aufhören", just a bit old style - a quotation from the Bible, 1. Korinther, 13:8 (Corinthians 13:8: Love never ends) .

A modern way of saying this sentence is "Die Liebe hört nie auf".

9
  • 1
    I added some info in the answer. – Eller Oct 30 '16 at 18:09
  • 2
    "nimmer" means "never", "never again " @PerlDuck – Eller Oct 30 '16 at 18:21
  • 2
    @PerlDuck> The problem is that "nicht immer" means "not always", which is completely different from "not ever". – TonyK Oct 30 '16 at 20:29
  • 1
    nicht mehr, nie mehr, nimmer. – user unknown Oct 31 '16 at 3:38
  • 1
    This historical shift is of course similar to that in English: Love never stoppeth. – Scott Wallace Nov 1 '16 at 18:38
3

Up until approximately a century ago, it was common to include much more e’s in writing verbs than nowadays. Verb forms that today would be written Xst or Xt, where X is any consonant sound, where often spelt Xest or Xet instead. In long gone times, there was probably a shwa to separate the consonant cluster which has since been reduced to sheer nothingness. By readding that shwa into one’s spoken language, one can nowadays create a very dated or very religious feeling — the latter because, naturally, many old Bible translations preserved said written e. Thus, höret is nothing more and nothing less than a dated spelling of hört. Similarly:

Gehet hin und mehret euch (old)
Geht hin und mehrt euch (contemporary spelling but still dated word choice and grammar)

Wo gehest du hin? (old)
Wo gehst du hin? (contemporary)


Likewise, the word nimmer is a dated variant of today’s nie although it is also a contemporary southern colloquial form of nicht mehr/nie mehr. While your example would make sense using nicht mehr, I would assume that the intended meaning is in fact nie.

Putting it all together, in contemporary German the grave would read:

Die Liebe hört nie auf.

In no case has the meaning shifted, only the spelling of one word and the use of the other is dated.

4
  • I disagree with the stated absoluteness, that more es were present earlier. Meyers Konversationslexikon from 1892 proves, that adjectives and comparatives had less. It consistently uses unter anderm, größern and provides many more examples. – guidot Oct 30 '16 at 21:36
  • @guidot Interesting point. I was specifically referring to verbs, so I added another verb. I hope it’s better now? – Jan Oct 30 '16 at 21:47
  • It's surely better, but I had assumed that you also wanted to cover the trailing e in dative case, as discussed here. Not intended? – guidot Nov 4 '16 at 15:38
  • @guidot The dative-e is a good point but considering that the question is more on a verb I feel it is okay to restrict the discussion to verbs ;) – Jan Nov 5 '16 at 15:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.