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In the expression die Weimarer Republik, Republik is a feminine noun, therefore I'm puzzled by the nominative masculine -er ending in the adjective Weimarer.

Is this phenomenon (whatever it is) specific to this particular noun, or is it an example of something more general?


EDIT: Despite the barrage of criticism and downvoting this question has earned, I still think it's a reasonable one. After all, in other similar expressions (e.g. die Deutsche Republik), the article preceding the word Republik has the expected feminine ending -e. Granted, even if Republik were a masculine noun, the definite article would render the -er ending incorrect (just like the -er in der braver Hund is incorrect). Still the ending of Weimarer here remains a puzzle to me. I hope that someone comes along who understands the situation well enough to provide a reasonable clarification, instead of petulant comments and downvotes.

  • 2
    Who told you that "-er" must be masculine? It's not. – tofro Oct 28 '18 at 19:24
  • Die Republik is feminie? – πάντα ῥεῖ Oct 28 '18 at 19:25
  • 3
    Now, that is very generally true, but not for adjectives derived from city and place names - "Frankfurter Würstchen", "Hamburger Mädchen", "Dresdner Christstollen", "Weimarer Republik". – tofro Oct 28 '18 at 19:33
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Your question is smart and beautiful. Thank you for raising this issue here. As a non-native speaker, I guess I have your answer.

In German, there are two kinds of adjectives formed with the suffix -er and are undeclinable:

  1. Adjectives formed from the names of cities and towns (like your example): Die Weimarer Republik. Das Berliner Stadtschloss.

  2. Adjectives formed from numerals: In den fünfziger Jahren. Sie hat einen roten 82er Mercedes.

So, the suffix -er is how these adjectives derived from nouns, and these adjectives don't decline i.e. don't have any ending no matter which case or gender they possess.

For other special cases of adjectives and other undeclinable adjectives, you can check this link https://www.deutschplus.net/pages/Besonderheiten_der_Adjektivdeklination

  • 3
    Not to forget the Frankfurter Würstchen, but see also this question. – guidot Oct 28 '18 at 21:44
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Not all words ending in -er are masculine, though many are. For example, it's das Muster (pattern), das Laster (vice, different meaning from der Laster (truck)), die Leiter (ladder, again different meaning from der Leiter (leader)).

Town or region name + er indicates that something comes from that town or region. For some famous combinations the noun is usually left out, for example:

  • Limburger and Edamer (cheeses from Limburg and Edam, respectively)

  • Champagner (bubbly from the champagne region in France)

  • Araber and Engländer (someone from Arabia and England, respectively)

In most cases you'll have to mention what noun you mean:

  • Bonner Verkehrsbetriebe (runs the public transportation system in and around Bonn)

  • Frankfurter grüne Soße (a special sauce from Frankfurt, if you just said "Frankfurter", that would be a sausage)

  • Kölner Karneval (carnival season and celebrations in Cologne)

Special cases and exceptions:

  • the beer from Jever is just Jever (Pils), not Jeverer (Pils)

  • Kölnisch Wasser, not Kölner Wasser (a perfume)

  • Jenever is not from a town or region called Jenev

Some have different meanings, depending on context:

  • Amerikaner is both a person from America (often the US) and a sugar glazed pastry

  • Berliner is both a person from Berlin and a pastry similar to a doughnut

  • Pariser is a condom, not necessarily (someone) from Paris

  • Römer is both someone from (ancient) Rome, especially in Asterix comics, and a kind of wine glass

Some of these regional designations and nouns have become terms on their own, like Weimarer Republic. If you added more adjectives, you would adjust them to the noun's gender, e.g., die alte Weimarer Republik.

  • 4
    I think, the original poster was wondering about adjectives with the einig -er, not nouns. (as in ein kleiner Hund) – Arsak Oct 29 '18 at 9:54
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Are you aware, that Weimar is not a noun, but the name of a town? WeimarER is a genitive and it is rather common the form names in which the name of a place is included to signify the influence of this place by adding -er the the places name. Note, that Weimarer is written with a capital first letter. You will find many similar examples In the list of protected geographical indications.

  • 1
    Note that is not (well, not really) a genitive. – tofro Oct 28 '18 at 19:37
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Sometimes a historical explanation is the best. “Berliner” (as in Berliner Würste) and “Weimarer” (as in Weimarer Republik) are historically not adjectives; they are the genitive plural of nouns for the inhabitants of the places in question. So, „Berliner Würste“ are „die Würste der Berliner“ (the Berliners‘ sausages). This also explains why there is an upper-case B.

This analysis goes back to Adelung, Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart, Spalte 1849, who writes:

Eben dieselbe Bedeutung hat diese Sylbe auch, wenn sie den Nahmen der Länder und Städte angehänget wird, die Herkunft einer Person, zuweilen auch eines Thieres und leblosen Dinges anzudeuten. Ein Römer, der aus Rom gebürtig ist; so auch ein Frankfurter, Hamburger, Holsteiner, Berliner, Leipziger, Österreicher, Schweizer, Engländer, Holländer, Märker, Pfälzer u. s. f. Die sich auf e, en, und n endigen, werfen solches vor dieser Zusammensetzung gemeiniglich weg, wie Lothringer von Lothringen, Spanier, Thüringer; nur Meißen behält solches, ein Meißener oder Meißner. Andere nehmen ein n eigenmächtig an, wie Gothaner, von Gotha, anderer Veränderungen nicht zu gedenken. Indessen darf diese Zusammensetzung nicht willkührlich versucht werden, weil viele Gentilia in andern Formen hergebracht sind; z. B. ein Böhm, Kroat, Däne, Preuße, Pommer, Franke, Franzose, Pohle, Sachse, Schwede, Tartar, Deutscher, nicht Deutschländer, Ungar, Westphale, Indianer, Italiäner, Jenenser, Hallenser, u. s. f. Übrigens lassen sich von allen diesen Gentilibus auf -er auch Fäminina auf -inn bilden. Römerinn, Frankfurterinn, Schweizerinn, Tirolerinn u. s. f.Oft werden die Gentilia auf -er wie Beywörter gebraucht; Schweizer Käse, Nürnberger Witz, Straßburger Geschütz, Hamburger Rindfleisch, Leipziger Lerchen, Braunschweiger Würste, Berliner Blau, die Wiener Landwehre. Allein diese Art des Ausdruckes macht die gedachten Wörter gewiß nicht zu wahren Beywörtern. Sie stehen vielmehr nach Art der Lateiner in der unbestimmten zweyten Endung des Plurals, gleichsam Käse der Schweizer, so wie man auch in andern Fällen sagt, wer Menschen Blut vergießt, Weiber Zorn ist heftig, Gottes Güte, Herren Dienst geht vor u. s. f. Daher man sie allenfalls auch mit dem Verbindungszeichen schreiben könnte. Meißner-Porzellän, Berliner-Blau, Berger-Thran, Berger-Fische.

In other words: “Wiener” in “Wiener Landwehre” is not an adjective (“Beywort”), but genitive plural (“in der unbestimmten zweyten Endung des Plurals“) of a noun, whereby “Wiener” is invariable for case except in the gen. sing. (eines Wieners) and dat. pl. (den Wienern). “Die Wiener Landwehre” is “die Landwehre der Wiener”. Is there any good reason not to accept this analysis?

  • Does that mean that, grammatically speaking, we shouldn't call it »die Weimarer Republik«, but »der Weimarer Republik«? Then it would be »die Republik der Weimarer«. But why question that it's »die Republik von Weimar«? I don't think the population of Weimar were the most important figures in this creation of that country. – Philipp Oct 29 '18 at 19:47
  • @Philipp. No. The article "die" goes with the noun "Republik". – fdb Oct 29 '18 at 19:57
  • Yes, but if we assume that »Weimarer« really denotes the people from Weimar (Weimarer = jemand aus Weimar), then we're talking genitive, and it should be »der«: »die Republik der Weimarer« = »der Weimarer Republik«. – Philipp Oct 29 '18 at 20:05
  • @Philipp. "Die Berliner Würste", not "der". – fdb Oct 29 '18 at 20:08
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    @Philipp. But of course these fossilized genitive plurals have been reanalyzed as unconjugated adjectives. – fdb Oct 29 '18 at 20:10

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