3

I'm puzzled by the difference in meaning between

Die Eltern werden ihrem Kind Alles ermöglichen

and

Die Eltern werden Alles ihrem Kind ermöglichen

Is there an actual difference in meaning, or is one simply more idiomatic or clearer than the other?

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    Which difference do you see? – amadeusamadeus Aug 4 '20 at 21:33
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    @orome Emphasis. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 4 '20 at 22:08
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    If you get the meaning, then it is the same meaning, but variant 2 is unusual almost to the point of being outright wrong. – Kilian Foth Aug 5 '20 at 6:57
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    The fact that Duolingo only accepts one of the above sentences does not imply that there is a difference in meaning. – David Vogt Aug 5 '20 at 8:48
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    @orome: please include your clarification "who sees an error" into your question. – Shegit Brahm Aug 5 '20 at 9:26
8

Short answer: Yes, changing the word order may lead to a change in meaning.

Longer answer: This phenomenon has to do with the concept of Markiertheit (markedness). Roughly speaking, statements can be expressed in a regular, unmarked form or in a somewhat divergent, marked form. One way to mark a statement is to change the word order. To see this, let's have a look at the following example sentences:

  1. Die Eltern werden ihrem Kind alles ermöglichen. (unmarked)
  2. Die Eltern werden alles ihrem Kind ermöglichen. (marked)
  3. Alles werden die Eltern ihrem Kind ermöglichen. (marked)
  4. Ihrem Kind alles ermöglichen werden die Eltern. (marked)

The main statements (the denotations) expressed with these sentences are the same. Still, the changed word orders in 2., 3., and 4. are accompanied by a change in sentence stress and thus in meaning: Sentence 2 additionally connotes that it is above all their child who is enabled by the parents (rather than other children or or other persons). Sentence 3 emphasizes that it is all and everything that the parents will enable, adding as a connotation the parents' determination to act. Sentence 4 emphasizes that it is above all the the parents who will enable their child (rather than other people who may also do it).


Addition: A similar question has already been asked a couple of years ago in German, see Wortreihenfolge in »weil du es bist«.

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  • Most elaborate answer so far. Did you consider to include the rule why (Eltern->)Kind->Alles is the unmarked word order? Apart from SVO, animate->inanimate may play a role. – amadeusamadeus Aug 5 '20 at 11:13
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    Interesting note: I think it partly depends on the reader, which part of an "off normal- word- order- sentence" he stresses. In sentence 2 my emphasis would lie on "alles": The parents will no just make possible SOME things, but ALL things... Stil the answer is very good and valid. +1 – Torsten Link Aug 5 '20 at 13:20
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Cross the second one out of your head. The first one is correct. Even if you want to lay emphasis on it, the second one simply isnt used. reason:word order... altho it might be correct gramatically it should not be used. All the comparisons i found like for example

correct:

Ich werde den Müll rausbringen. = "I will take out the garbage"

Den Müll werde ich rausbringen = still correct but very niche and with slightly different meaning/emphasis. You would use this if you want to lay emphasis that YOU will take it out, or that you will take THIS specific trash out.

But that isnt even the case with

Die Eltern werden Alles ihrem Kind ermöglichen

It might have some faaaaar fetched optional uses. But just cross it out of your head.

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    Welcome to German.SE. When you say "it might be correct grammatically" - do sou say the second one is wrong? (Because that's what I interpret) So are you sure by a rule (which?) that it is wrong or right? When you say "all the comparisons I found" - where did you find them? Can that be linked & quoted? Why should I as a learner cross something out & forget about it instead of setting the marker "unusual/niche" to deal with it much later? – Shegit Brahm Aug 5 '20 at 9:22
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    simply because it isnt something that has to be dealt with ever. its not simply niche, its something that doesnt need to be dealt with unless you know perfect german and one day want to do fancy things nobody needs and wants – Jana Aug 5 '20 at 9:32
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I am an native German speaker and in my opinion these two sentences are identical and just differ by the order of the words. The meaning doesn't change in any kind of way no matter of fact where the indefinite pronoun comes to use. No matter if it comes behind the verb or the noun.

But i am no German professor, so please correct me if am wrong.

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    Welcome to German.SE. Do I understand you right that in your opinion the word order has no effect on the meaning at all? Es ist also völlig egal, wie rum etwas geschrieben steht? Denn wie rum etwas geschrieben steht - ist völlig egal? ... Ich sehe einen Betonungsunterschied, der wiederum im Kontext Sender-Empfänger einen Bedeutungsunterschied ausmacht. Meiner Meinung nach. – Shegit Brahm Aug 5 '20 at 7:37
  • @ShegitBrahm Ich stimme dir schon zu, nur meiner Meinung nach macht es bei diesem genannten Beispiel von dem Thread ersteller keinen Unterschied ob das 'Alles' nach dem Verb oder nach dem Nomen kommt. In meiner Hinsicht bleibt die Beudeutung gleich. – stax Aug 5 '20 at 7:47

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