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I have always thought that one aspect of writing in German that causes less angst than writing in English is inner-sentential punctuation. The number of questions about punctuation on StackExchange's English Language and Usage site is testimony to this.

In German, for example, independent and dependent clauses must always be separated by commas. There is no such 'rule' in English. But one thing about English that is clear - at least to the extent that considerable attention is given to it in English lessons in school - is that run-ons or comma splices are to be avoided. So, the English teacher will always mark a sentence such as the following as a comma splice mistake:

The Labour Party is today electing a new leader, the favourite is Tony Blair.

I don't recall having encountered such errors in the British mainstream press that I read - and as an English teacher I am usually hypersensitive to grammar or usage issues.

Yet in today's Zeit Online there is an article about the SPD-Parteitag with the following sentence:

Die SPD wählt eine neue Parteivorsitzende, als gesetzt gilt Andrea Nahles.

And here is a sentence from today's SPON article about antisemitism:

Er hat nie den Spott aushalten müssen, der sich regelmäßig über Schlagerstars wie Helene Fischer ergießt, dabei trennt die beiden weniger, als man denkt.

It would seem to me that there needs to be a full stop after ergießt.

Is this usage generally acceptable practice or simply an example of German journalese to be avoided in other contexts?

Related question: Is this sentence a run-on sentence?


Update: 22.04.2018

Added more examples from the last two days, plus links to information about comma splices in English from Wikipedia and the influential OWL at Purdue:

  • Köln und der HSV könnten nun absteigen, das weckt das Schlechte in uns allen. Source

  • Der Ölpreis steigt und steigt, das trifft auch amerikanische Verbraucher. Source

  • Das heißt nicht, dass sie vorgeben darf, wie das Programm aussieht, sie darf aber den Rahmen setzen, der bei ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio mit einer Belegschaft von 41500 „Vollzeitäquivalenten“, 66 Radio-, 21 Fernsehprogrammen und vielerlei Onlineauftritten sehr weit gesteckt ist. Source

  • Zuletzt hatte die Polizei die Porsche-Zentrale wegen der Dieselaffäre durchsucht, jetzt wurde ein Mitarbeiter des Autobauers verhaftet. Source

  • Die Sozialdemokraten haben eine neue Chefin gewählt, und dabei hat es wieder einmal gequietscht, wie sollte es anders sein nach diesem fürchterlichen Jahr. Source

Comma Splices 1 - Comma Splices 2

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    You seem to be applying English punctuation rules to German sentences. This won't work. English punctuation is driven to improve readability (i.e. aims to improve writing style), while in German it is 100% driven by grammar. There are no punctuation "rules" that will tell you where to divide your sentences - As long as the sentences are grammatical, punctuation rules are very clear on where to put your commas and will be fine, however unreadable your text will become. Style is an entirely different thing in German writing. – tofro Apr 20 '18 at 7:33
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    Adding to tofro's and Janka's comments, I want to mention that there is also the semicolon. Personally, I favor the semicolon over the comma in such constructions. – Björn Friedrich Apr 20 '18 at 8:19
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    Das ist im Deutschen tatsächlich nicht unüblich; ich finde trotzdem, dass auch hier das Semikolon eine bessere Wahl als das Komma ist. – leftaroundabout Apr 20 '18 at 8:44
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    Be careful with semicolons in German, they can seem pretentious and should not be overused. To connect two very short sentences like in the Nahles example, it would be out of place. Thanks, by the way, for making me aware of the "comma splice" rule in English writing; I had never heard of it. – Carsten S Apr 20 '18 at 9:13
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    @Shoe Again: How you build and splice your sentences is not an issue of punctuation in German. There are fixed (and much more rigid than in English) rules on where between the grammatical building blocks you have to put a comma. This is absolutely not a matter of choice. How you build your sentences from grammatical building blocks, however, is a matter of writing style. But once you chose the building blocks, punctuation is fixed.... (tbc) – tofro Apr 20 '18 at 10:22
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Die SPD wählt eine neue Parteivorsitzende. Als gesetzt gilt Andrea Nahles.

Die SPD wählt eine neue Parteivorsitzende, (und) als gesetzt gilt Andrea Nahles.

These are concatenated main clauses, the comma is mandatory. It was always acceptable to do this in German. The form with comma and und is taught in schools as this is distinctive from lists with und, which by rule don't have the »Oxford comma« in German.

In German, you are allowed to run sentences over several pages if you feel to do so.

  • Thanks to you and @tofro .It's good to be rid of a misconception about how German Zeichensetzung works. Nevertheless, a sentence such as the following would not strike me as particularly leserfreundlich: Die SPD wählt eine neue Parteivorsitzende, als gesetzt gilt Andrea Nahles, die gibt sich zuversichtlich, doch laut einer Umfrage sehen die Deutschen sie skeptisch. – Shoe Apr 20 '18 at 7:47
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    You could write that but it would sound agitated. For that reason, there is the relief with und: … , und die gibt sich zuversichtlich … You could try the reverse and ask German speakers if they heard a comma or a full stop – the answer depends on how you spoke. – Janka Apr 20 '18 at 8:23
  • There are also whole books that are just one sentence. – PlasmaHH Apr 20 '18 at 8:42
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    @Janka, this doesn't really answer the question. With und it's not a comma splice, as that term is understood in English. The question is whether the und is truly optional. Including the und is only confusing the issue. – Kyralessa Apr 20 '18 at 13:00
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    We can't talk about comma splice for German, because this kind of fault does not exist in German. Concatenating independent clauses with commas is allowed and common practice in German, it always was. The und is a filler without meaning, it's purely optional. – Janka Apr 20 '18 at 14:30
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@Janka's answer is perfect, I want to append some detail.

Most of the commas in German are made up by one single rule: Commas have to delimit two complete clauses that come together. A clause is complete as soon as it has a subject and a verb that is conjugated to this subject.

Die SPD wählt eine neue Parteivorsitzende, als gesetzt gilt Andrea Nahles.

Subject: Die SPD; Verb: wählt; Subject: Andrea Nahles; Verb: gilt.

The second sentence is just a concatenation of two main clauses where you expect a full stop, again the rule subject with conjugated verb (complete clause) applies.

Even more so: The rule you mentioned,

independent and dependent clauses must always be separated by commas.

is entailed by the rule of complete clauses.

  • "The second sentence is just a concatenation of two main clauses where you expect a full stop, again the rule subject with conjugated verb (complete clause) applies." There's another good example...if it were in German. ;) In English you can't do this without a conjunction such as "so" or "thus" or "therefore". – Kyralessa May 27 at 13:38

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