2

The following sentence (on page 12) begins with no definite article das:

Zentrum der klassichen Periode der griechischen Philosophie (4. Jahrhundert v. Chr.) ist Athen.

Shouldn't it have begun with das, as in

Das Zentrum der klassichen Periode der griechischen Philosophie (4. Jahrhundert v. Chr.) ist Athen

where das Zentrum der would naturally be rendered into English as the center of the...?

Is this omission of the definite article stylistic or grammatical in nature?

If it had been

Zentrum zur klassichen Periode der griechischen Philosophie (4. Jahrhundert v. Chr.) ist Athen

I would have understood the absence of the definite article because Zentrum zur would have translated into English as center to the... (although I am not sure whether or not this is idiomatic in German).

7

This is a German grammar characteristic called "Nullartikel". It basically means that, in some cases, you can leave out the (definite or indefinite) Article.

Examples of when this rule is used can be found here.

In this case, "Zentrum" has a more abstract meaning than the geographic center. Therefore it can be counted to the abstract nouns, which denote general characteristics and feelings without closer determination. (I admit that non-native speakers may find it difficult to identify this as an abstract noun)

Another example of this would be:

Zum Geburtstag wünschen wir Gesundheit, Glück und Lebensfreude.

More Examples:

Kern der Sache ist ...

Voraussetzung dafür ist ...

Mittelpunkt der Verantstaltung war ...

Herz der Region ist ...

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  • 1
    These examples do not demonstrate the same phenomenon at all. "Gesundheit",. etc. are just normal non-countable nouns, and that is the reason they lose the determiner. All the other examples concern nouns that are countable, and they lose the determiner not they are being used figuratively, but because they are topicalized, predicative expressions. Each of these examples would be substantially less acceptable if the noun were not topicalized, or not predicative: ?"Osnabrück ist Herz der Region." *"Kern der Sache ist noch unklar." – Kilian Foth Jul 9 '17 at 20:48

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