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Could someone explain to me why in the following sentence die unpassend gelegenen Ländereien does not follow immediately after dass? Theoretically, it should, correct? Has the 19th century author simply made an error of style, or is this allowed in German?

In neuerer Zeit ist die Zahl der Büdner dadurch sehr vermehrt, daß bei neuen Regulirungen der Domanial-Feldmarken die unpassend gelegenen Ländereien den bisherigen Inhabern abgenommen und in Parcelen zerschlagen sind, welche man mit der Verpflichtung, jede einzelne Parcele mit einem Büdner-Kathen zu bebauen, zu Erbpachtrecht veräußert hat.

Would it be correct to write the following instead?

In neuerer Zeit ist die Zahl der Büdner dadurch sehr vermehrt, daß die unpassend gelegenen Ländereien bei neuen Regulirungen der Domanial-Feldmarken den bisherigen Inhabern abgenommen und in Parcelen zerschlagen sind, welche man mit der Verpflichtung, jede einzelne Parcele mit einem Büdner-Kathen zu bebauen, zu Erbpachtrecht veräußert hat.

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    Well, it depends what the author wants to stress. – c.p. Jan 25 '17 at 15:03
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    I would say that both versions are equally correct. An oversimplified/artificial example with similar basic structure: "Es stört mich, dass bei Regen die Sonne nicht scheint" vs. "Es stört mich, dass die Sonne bei Regen nicht scheint" - I, personally, do not see even a subtle semantic difference here. – Marco13 Jan 25 '17 at 15:56
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    I have rolled back your edit. The additional phrase you entered is not comparable; they would have to be separate questions. Hint: the Ländereien are not the subject in that sentence. – Jan Jan 25 '17 at 21:53
  • Thank you! I thought originally that the Ländereien were the object of the verb (what was being taken away from the Inhabern) - is that correct? The acquaintance was showing me some grammar books, and then I was confused (and still am confused) about what we call what used to be the object in the active sentence. Thank you very much! Perhaps I should try to post a second question! – Krysiulek Jan 26 '17 at 2:11
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Hier sind die Umstände ("bei neuen Reguli(e)rungen") offensichtlich von SO großer Bedeutung, dass man sie vorangestellt und durch diese prominente Position aufgewertet hat.

Die zweite Variante ist grammatikalisch gängiger, hebt die Umstände aber nicht in gleicher Weise hervor.

  • Thank you for your help! I am glad that it is a question of emphasis! – Krysiulek Jan 25 '17 at 21:42
  • You're welcome. That's what this site is all about. You can show your gratitude by accepting an answer. – Kristina Jan 25 '17 at 21:48
  • Ah! I didn't realize what was going on at the left - as you can probably tell, this is my first time posting a question! Thanks! – Krysiulek Jan 26 '17 at 2:16
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Except for the position of the verbs which are fixed, German word order is a set of guidelines rather than actual rules. These guidelines allow practically every word order (just to reiterate: as long as the verbs are in the correct positions) but define various amounts of tension; from an unemphasised sentence to one that is so tense it sounds wrong. This is akin to music: a quint (i.e. ‘many guidelines observed’) sounds very agreeable while breaking a lot of guidelines — e.g. using a tritonus or a second — gives a very dissonant, ‘wrong’ sound.

While one of these guidelines is that the subject should be near to the beginning of a sentence, there are many others that can and will interfere. Thus, many a time in a German sentence objects, adverbials or prepositional phrases precede the subject.

In your example, the author wanted to stress the re-regulation of the land. They couldn’t have done that if they had put the subject right after the conjunction; they needed to move what they wanted emphasised to the sentence’s beginning.

  • Thank you very much for all of your help! I was suspecting these things when asked by someone about this sentence, but did not have confidence to try to answer his question myself! – Krysiulek Jan 25 '17 at 21:34

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