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What is the function of "zahlenmäßig" (numerical?) in the following sentence?

Wer dabei zahlenmäßig den zweifelhaften Spitzenplatz einnimmt, ist wohl noch nie wissenschaftlich erfasst worden.

As I understand it, the english translation would not include any possible translation of "zahlenmäßig." Does this sentence sound normal in german? If so, when would you use sentences of this type (ie, including the "zahlenmäßig")? Would you use analogous terms when writing about other topcis? Maybe "zeitmäßig" if this was referring to time (or something similar)?

Sentence adopted from Gerd-Christian Treutler's answer to this question:

https://de.quora.com/Welches-Land-hat-in-der-Geschichte-die-meisten-Vertr%C3%A4ge-gebrochen-die-es-auch-unterzeichnet-hat

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Yes, this sentence sounds normal in German and zahlenmäßig means basically "in terms of numbers". With this meaning, it is also possible to translate the sentence into English:

Whoever takes the questionable top position in terms of numbers has probably never been scientifically recorded.

Having said that it is also possible to omit zahlenmäßig in this sentence, and it would still be understood in the same way. If you include it in your example context, you emphasize even more, that your statement is about the number of broken treaties and not e.g. the importance of the treaties, since some (broken) treaties may have bigger consequences to the people than others.

  • Thanks, good answer! Do you know if words like "zahlenmäßig" are part of a larger grammatical category? Also, do you know if there are words like "zahlenmäßig" that refer to non-numerical things? What you have written is very interesting and I'd like to read further. – Aaron Apr 7 at 16:39
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zahlenmäßig = in terms of numbers

Very often you can omit this adjective, because you already know from the context, that you are talking about numbers. But you need it when the context doesn't provide this information or when the context even provides a contrary indication. Here is an example:

Context:

Die Herunen haben den klügeren Feldherren und bessere Waffen als die Brasen.
The Heruns have the cleverer generals and better weapons than the Brase.

(Herunen and Brasen are fictional names.)

But then comes the
Statement:

Die Brasen sind den Herunen überlegen.
The Brase are superior to the Heruns.

This doesn't make sense in this context. The Brase have dump generals and weak weapons. How can they be superior to the cleverly leaded and well equipped Heruns? This only makes sense, when you add something:

Die Brasen sind den Herunen zahlenmäßig überlegen.
The Brase are superior to the Heruns in terms of numbers.

  • Thanks, good answer! Do you know if words like "zahlenmäßig" are part of a larger grammatical category? Also, do you know if there are words like "zahlenmäßig" that refer to non-numerical things? What you have written is very interesting and I'd like to read further. – Aaron Apr 7 at 16:39
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    @Aaron: "part of a larger grammatical category" - The name of this category is "adjectives". Adjectives can be used as attributes (ein schnelles Auto), predicative (Das Auto ist schnell) or adverbial (Das Auto fährt schnell). In my example zahlenmäßig was used adverbial. You can replace it with any other adjective that makes sense there (deutlich, klar, haushoch, weit, signifikant, intellektuell, wirtschaftlich, technisch, ...) – Hubert Schölnast Apr 7 at 20:08
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    @Aaron: A subclass of adjectives are those who end in -mäßig. This subclass neither has an own name nor has it any special grammatical properties. Some of them make sense when used together with the verb überlegen sein (regelmäßig, planmäßig, mengenmäßig, flächenmäßig), some other don't (fahrplanmäßig, verkehrsmäßig, hobbymäßig). – Hubert Schölnast Apr 7 at 20:15

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