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I was wondering when you have to use a 'k' and when a 'c'. Originally, I thought everything that sounded like a 'k' in German, was written with a 'k'. But the bank named Commerzbank isn't written with a 'k', but with a 'c'. Why? I'm a Dutch Belgian, and I know that half of the words are written with a 'c' and half of the words with a 'k' in Dutch. Is this also the case in German?

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    Commerz is an older spelling that was retained in the name: books.google.com/ngrams/… – Carsten S Apr 5 '17 at 14:41
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    C is considered to be more glossy by the public relations department, so you will also find a "German" Electronic, even if elektron derives pretty straight from Greek, where a c does not even exist. – guidot Apr 6 '17 at 6:57
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You were correct with your assumption, German always never uses 'c' for a 'k' sound.

But German has adopted many words from other languages and often keeps their writing:

  • Cafe
  • Captain
  • Ciao
  • City
  • Code
  • ...

But "Commerzbank" is a name, most rules don't apply to names. For example, the given name "Markus" also exists as "Marcus", but it much rarer. Sometimes, people want to be fancy and write "Centrum" instead of "Zentrum".

Additionally, there are words which exist in their original form and the German form, like:

  • Club <-> Klub
  • Clan <-> Klan
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  • In comparison, Dutch isn't that easy... Since 2005, they added these 'c''s. And there's no rule for it. I'm glad German doesn't have this! – AutoDemolisher Apr 5 '17 at 17:58
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    Don't be relieved to early, we have so many imported words that you can easily get confused. I'll make this an edit ;) – Sentry Apr 5 '17 at 18:04
  • Yes, in Dutch too, some words can be spelled either with a 'c' or with a 'k'. "Klan" or "clan" also exists in Dutch. But if I can, I'm tended to use 'k'. It's just linguistic purism, Dutch is messed up with lean words ;) – AutoDemolisher Apr 5 '17 at 21:01
  • "always never"? – Blavius Apr 6 '17 at 3:38
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You can be 99% sure that a germanic word (kurz, Kind, kalt) will be always written with "k" but latin word (incl. english) is difficult to decide.

To be sure, unfortunately you have know when the "latin" (en,fr,it) word borrowed in german language. For example the words "Krise", "Kultur" entered before 16 century and probably written with "c" previously but the orthography is reformed many times and changed to "k", like "ph" to "f" in some words in 20 century. (Photo = Foto, but Physik is still Physik )

If you are unsure, i will advice you that you always write with "k" as long you dont assume the word is borrowed from english after 1960s.. like "Computer" etc. The germans choosed the way to adapt english words the english-way of writing and spelling

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Milestones along the way include the merger in 1920 with the Mitteldeutsche Privat-Bank, a regional bank based in Magdeburg, and in 1929 with the Mitteldeutsche Creditbank based in Frankfurt am Main. In the wake of the crisis in the banking sector, the government ordered the merger in early 1932 of Commerzbank with the Barmer Bank-Verein Hinsberg, Fischer & Co. in Düsseldorf. In 1940, the name Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, by which the bank was generally known, was officially adopted.

I believe, it's just the way, the company wants to be seen in the world. I mean, as more international.

If you would open any German dictionary you would notice, that there is actually a lot of words in German, that start with "c", but you should pronounce it with "k". These words are mostly international and don't have German roots, like Cargo, Catering, codieren. I believe, the same applies to Commerzbank :)

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