This sentence is from a 19th century Handbuch (famously called Beilstein Handbuch der Organischen Chemie):

Die Glykoside werden durch Ausziehen der Pflanzenstoffe u.s.w. mit Wasser oder Alkohol dargestellt. Mit in Lösung gegangene Nebenstoffe (Gerbsäuren u. s. w.) lassen sich durch Ausfällen mit Bleizucker entfernen. Das vom Bleiniederschlage befreite Filtrat wird durch H2S entbleit und dann eingedampft.

As usual the combinations "Das von dem" are pretty difficult for learners. One noun is also missing. If I try to translate:

The filtrate, from which (=von dem) the lead precipitate is removed, is through H2S de-leaded (i.e., lead is removed) and then evaporated.

Question: Is my assumption correct that Das is referring to Filtrat, but the noun should have -e, -er ending?

Why DeepL or Google show odd translations?

  • GT:

    The filtrate freed from the lead precipitate is de-fused by H2S and then evaporated.

  • DL:

    The filtrate freed from lead precipitation is deflated by H2S and then evaporated.

Where is deflated and de-fused coming from?

  • 2
    I don't know how they arrived at "deflated" or "de-fused", but I'm mildly surprised that they both got the first part of the sentence right - seems that they did improve a lot since I last tried them.
    – Hulk
    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:26
  • 5
    "but the noun should have -e, -er ending" Why should it?
    – Iris
    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:31
  • 3
    Google does not seen to know translation for "entbleit" or "entbleien" - if you try to translate it as a single word. It perhaps attempts to guess something based on context, but fails there - anyway, the question why a specific automatic tool comes up with a certain translation is off-topic here, as they are usually wrong anyway and we have no way of knowing in detail what they attempt to do. So lets focus on the first part of your question.
    – Hulk
    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:39
  • 6
    You've titled this "Old scientific German", but there's nothing in the excerpt that you wouldn't find in a modern publication
    – PiedPiper
    Mar 1, 2019 at 9:50
  • 2
    Not your question, but since it changes the meaning: to evaporate means verdampfen, whereas eindampfen means to boil down or to inspissate.
    – Arsak
    Mar 1, 2019 at 10:59

1 Answer 1


You are essentially asking:

"Is my assumption correct that Das is referring to Filtrat, but the noun should have -e, -er ending?"

Regarding das: yes, indeed, it refers to Filtrat just as you assume.

Regarding the morphology of Filtrat: No, here you err. The noun Filtrat is perfectly fine so. You could only add an (old-fashioned) -e if it was in dative case, e.g.

Das vom Filtrat(e) gereinigte Filterpapier werfe man in den Ofen. Dem Filtrat(e) selbst wende man dann seine ganze Aufmerksamkeit zu. Vor dem Bleisalz(e) hüte man sich, denn es vermag dem Leib(e) dauerhaften Schaden zuzufügen. Dem Mann(e) wie dem Weib(e) sei darum zu äußerster Vorsicht geraten, sowohl auf dem Land(e) wie auf dem Meer(e).

(I am playing a bit with the old way of speaking/writing in these old scholarly books.)

If you did not notice: the -e suffix in dative case applies to (monosyllabic) male and neuter nouns. It is not applicable for female nouns. It is not applicable to plurisyllabic nouns, so not: vor dem Bleizuckere (!) hüte man sich, but only vor dem Bleizucker hüte man sich.

But in nominative case there is no way of adding an -e.

(But note commenter Uwe's sharp observation that Filtrat is anyway duosyllabic... hm... perhaps an extraordinary exception?)

For adding an -er: I even cannot guess what makes you think this could be a thing to do. Filtrater? Why?

A list of other words that can carry -e in dativ case without sounding too unfaniliar (but it always will sound either old-style or poetic or manieristic):

  • dem Hunde
  • dem Huhne
  • zum Bade
  • zum Gruße
  • zum Loche
  • dem Fuchse
  • dem Monde
  • im Buche
  • im Stalle
  • am Stande verkauft die Marktfrau dem Kinde eine Melone
  • am Rande
  • vom Fleische
  • zum Lichte dränget doch alles
  • im Grabe
  • ...

Interestingly not acceptable (i.e. sounding too unfamiliar, at least to me)

  • dem Marse (dem Monde, yes, but the male monosylabic Mars does not tolerate -e, or at least it sounds silly)

  • dem Hanse gab der Franz eine schallende Ohrfeige

Working hypothesis: proper names do not like -e (?)

  • "Filtrat" is plurisyllabic.
    – Uwe
    Mar 1, 2019 at 9:14
  • I am using Cecil Pollard's translation strategy. It is an old book free from memorization of heavy grammar. He says that if you find this odd combination of participial construction say "Die der" or "Das von dem" look for a word before the noun which ends in -e or -en. Sorry I was mistaken with the noun. I should have searched befriet(e). This e shows that Das is going with Filtrat.
    – AChem
    Mar 1, 2019 at 15:53
  • Pollard's strategy isn't too helpful. The best strategy is looking for the predicate verb first. In declarative sentences, that verb occupies the second position which means all the words before it are one single item. Knowing German word order is all about parantheses, you know the first element inside that first item must be paired with the last element inside that first item. That is Das … Filtrat.
    – Janka
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:19
  • Actually Pollard made it quite easy for me. He has a big section on these constructions. I have never been good at grammar, or learning by too many rules. Too many terminologies in grammar agitate me. I am learning German because of interest in science history (just for reading knowledge).
    – AChem
    Mar 2, 2019 at 2:35
  • @Uwe Indeed, an unrefutable observation. Hm... Mar 2, 2019 at 12:29

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