I'm reading Franz Kafka's Die Verwandlung. The second sentence is: 'Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken [...]'. I think this sentence means 'He lied on his shell-like hard back [...]". In particular, 'panzerartig' seems to me as an adjective meaning shell-like ('panzer' + '-artig'). But if it's an adjective why doesn't it get an -en suffix like 'hart' does in order to agree with 'dem Rücken'? I would write this sentence as 'Er lag auf seinem panzerartigen harten Rücken [...]'; why is this wrong?

  • 2
    Hint: if an adjective is not inflected it is probably an adverb. – Carsten S Jul 14 '17 at 23:52
  • So is it "hard-like-shell back"? Can 'panzerartig' be both adverb and adjective then? – user28927 Jul 15 '17 at 1:01

Sometimes it's small things that make a difference:

Sie wusch ihr künstliches blondes Haar.

She washed her artificial blonde hair.

Sie wusch ihr künstlich blondes Haar.

She washed her artificially blonde hair.

Similarily, in your example:

Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken.

panzerartig describes hart, not the Rücken.

| improve this answer | |
  • Can any adjective potentially be an adverb in German? (Sorry if this is a very stupid question...) – user28927 Jul 15 '17 at 1:03
  • 1
    I can't think of any which can't at the moment. – Janka Jul 15 '17 at 1:04
  • 1
    @KilianFoth "Die dunkelrot gleißende Sonne ging unter". "Rot" works well as a modifier of a participle. – tofro Jul 15 '17 at 8:32
  • 1
    @tofro Jedoch dunkelrot gleißend ist logisch unschlüssig und daher kein gutes Beispiel: Gleißend ist sehr, sehr hell. Dunkelrot ist aber eher... äh... dunkel. – Christian Geiselmann Jul 16 '17 at 10:16
  • 2
    @ChristianGeiselmann Schon mal in eine Gießerei gekuckt? – tofro Jul 16 '17 at 10:23

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.