To begin with, I just "invented" these three expressions, maybe an example helps:

"Er erledigte seinen Auftrag und entsorgte seine Waffe. Dann stieg er in seinen Wagen. Er fuhr davon."

  1. So the "Sachebene" is the layer of meaning directly expressed by what is written down. Here it would be: A man just accomplished a mission, got rid of his weapon and drove away.

  2. The "Implikationsebene" would reveal that he is a killer who did his job and now he has to escape.

  3. The "Textebene" implies some kind of hectic activity is going on here because of the short, staccato-like sentences (couldn't think of a better example—I hope everybody knows what I mean by that)

My question: Do proper expressions exist for these three layers of meaning? (Doesn't matter whether they are English or German) I guess the three terms I just made up (except Sachebene—this is from Schulz von Thun's communication square) are not widely accepted...


The expressions you are looking for depend on the model of communication you are trying to adapt with this interesting trinominal approach. I do not know if they exist in the context you have outlined above, as I am not a communication scientist.

Nevertheless let me give you my laymans view on the usage of the suffix "-ebene" in general.

Whenever this suffix is used we do so to describe a common level. This is mostly done for institutions or for people who are members of a circle:

Vorstandsebene, Bundesebene

In analogy to this we also use "Ebene" figuratively for a set of attributes sharing the same level:

auf gedanklicher Ebene, auf zellulärer Ebene.

The usage of "-ebene" as as suffix in newly made up technical terms is possible and can be understood. As these terms are new they may need an explanation however. The figurative "Ebene" however is mostly not used as composite/suffix but is kept as a separate noun with an added adjective. For your examples this would then be:

"die sachliche Ebene", "die implizite Ebene", "die textliche Ebene"

Having said this, I still believe it is perfectly fine to make up new composites with existing words, as they are likely understood, at least from experts on that topic.

  • 1
    Thank you very much for this interesting link—Pragmatics seems to be the best choice for the "Implikationsebene". Although concerning the suffix "-ebene" I'm afraid I have to disagree (in this special case): Schulz von Thun, for example, (apparently a native speaker) uses "Sachebene" and "Beziehungsebene" in his communication square theory.
    – Peter
    Nov 25 '12 at 18:54

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